Research by IIT Roorkee experts leads to discovery of ancient giant snake species with Indian lineage | Education - Hindustan Times
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Research by IIT Roorkee experts leads to discovery of ancient giant snake species with Indian lineage

Apr 19, 2024 11:47 AM IST

IIT Roorkee researchers have discovered fossils of a new snake species in Kutch, Gujarat that is possibly one of the largest to have ever lived in the world.

In a significant discovery, researchers from IIT Roorkee have described fossils of a new snake species which lived around 47 million years ago in Gujarat, as possibly one of the largest snakes to have ever lived in the world with an Indian lineage.

IIT Roorkee researchers discover fossils of possibly the largest snake species to have ever lived in India. (Photo credits: IIT Roorkee)
IIT Roorkee researchers discover fossils of possibly the largest snake species to have ever lived in India. (Photo credits: IIT Roorkee)

The research done by Prof Sunil Bajpai and post-doctoral fellow Debajit Datta from IIT Roorkee showed that the snake species, scientifically dubbed as Vasuki Indicus and part of the now extinct madtsoiidae snake family, had an estimated length of between 11 and 15 meters, a press release issued by IIT Roorkee informed.

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The research:

The research that has also been published in the renowned Scientific Reports journal under Nature platform, stated that the fossils had been recovered from the Panandhro Lignite Mine in Kutch, Gujarat. It added that the fossil dates to the Middle Eocene period approximately 47 million years ago.

The authors described 27 well-preserved vertebrae in the research, some of which are articulated, appearing to be from a fully-grown animal.

Furthermore, the vertebrae measured between 37.5 and 62.7 millimeters in length and 62.4 and 111.4 millimeters in width, thereby suggesting a broad, cylindrical body.

Among the longest snakes to have ever lived:

Through the research, the authors estimated that Vasuki Indicus may have reached between 10.9 and 15.2 meters in length which is comparable in size to the longest known snake to have ever lived, the Titanoboa, which is extinct now.

The research suggested that Vasuki Indicus’s large size made it a slow-moving, ambush predator, like an anaconda.

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The Indian lineage:

As per the authors of the research, the Vasuki Indicus may have belonged to the madtsoiidae family, which existed for around 100 million, and represented a lineage of large madtsoiids that originated in the Indian subcontinent and spread via southern Europe to Africa during the Eocene, approximately 56 to 34 million years ago.

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