Fossils found in Gujarat's Kutch may belong to largest snake ‘Vasuki’, 15m long: Study - Hindustan Times
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Fossils found in Gujarat's Kutch may belong to largest snake ‘Vasuki’, 15m long: Study

Apr 19, 2024 03:45 PM IST

Vertebrae measurements indicate Vasuki Indicus likely had a broad, cylindrical body, inferred from lengths of 38-62mm and widths of 62-111mm.

Fossils excavated from Kutch in Gujarat could potentially be the remnants of one of the most giant snakes ever known, dubbed “Vasuki”, estimated to measure up to 49 feet (15 meters) in length – surpassing the size of a T. rex, a research conducted by the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee said. The fossils were discovered in a lignite mine in the Panandhro region of the Kutch district.

The fossils were dated back to the Middle Eocene period, approximately 47 million years ago.(Source: Scientific Reports)
The fossils were dated back to the Middle Eocene period, approximately 47 million years ago.(Source: Scientific Reports)

According to the journal published in Scientific Reports, researchers discovered 27 "mostly well-preserved" bones forming the snake's spinal column, or vertebra, with some connections still intact. They named the snake “Vasuki Indicus” (V.Indicus) and suggested it would have resembled a modern-day large python without venom.

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Vasuki belonged to the “Madtsoiidae snake family”, which emerged around 90 million years ago but became extinct about 12,000 years ago. This snake family inhabited regions across Africa, Europe, and India.

“Considering its large size, Vasuki was a slow-moving ambush predator that would subdue its prey through constriction like anacondas and pythons. This snake lived in a marshy swamp near the coast at a time when global temperatures were higher than today,” Reuters quoted Debajit Datta, a postdoctoral researcher in palaeontology at the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee (IITR) and lead author of the study published in the journal Scientific Reports.

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Features: Fossils date back to roughly 47 million years ago

- The fossils were dated back to the Middle Eocene period, approximately 47 million years ago. Due to incomplete remains, the researchers provided a length estimate ranging from 36 to 49 feet (11 to 15 meters) and a rough weight estimate of around a metric ton.

- It was named “Vasuki Indicus”(V. Indicus) after the mythical snake associated with the Hindu deity Shiva and its discovery in India, according to the research published in the journal Scientific Reports.

- Based on the vertebrae measurements, which ranged from 38 to 62 millimetres in length and 62 to 111 millimetres in width, the researchers inferred that V. Indicus likely had a broad, cylindrical body.

- The estimated length of V. Indicus ranged between 10.9 and 15.2 meters based on extrapolated measurements.

- Despite uncertainties, researchers noted that V. Indicus was comparable in size to Titanoboa, the longest-known snake species. Titanoboa fossils were first unearthed in present-day Colombia in the 2000s.

- V. Indicus's large size suggests it may have been a slow-moving ambush predator akin to an anaconda.

(With inputs from agencies)

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