World’s biggest snake lived in first “modern” rain forest 60 mln yrs ago

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

WASHINGTON - A new study has suggested that the world’s biggest snake lived in the earliest known “modern” rain forest some 60 million years ago.

According to a report in National Geographic News, the study is based on more than 2,000 fossil leaves recently discovered in Colombia’s Cerrejon coal mine-the same place where scientists had found fossils of Titanoboa cerrejonesis earlier this year.

Many of the newfound plant fossils are of palm, legume, and flowering species that still dominate South America’s rain forests, according to study team member Scott Wing, a paleontologist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

“That was kind of surprising,” Wing said. “What we’re seeing here is the first modern rain forest that we have any record of,” he added.

Based on the fossil leaves, scientists think Titanoboa’s rain forest was a few degrees warmer and contained fewer plant species than the modern version.

This lower diversity could be evidence that the ancient forests were still recovering from the catastrophic event that killed off the dinosaurs some five million years earlier, according to the scientists.

The team thinks that a dino-killer asteroid may have struck several hundred miles away from Colombia, in what is now Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

Such an impact could have triggered forest fires and worldwide climate change.

In fact, pollen fossils from before the impact show that South America’s dino-era forests were dramatically different from the tropical rain forests Titanoboa called home.

The plant species that existed alongside the world’s largest snake were so successful that many of them survived to the modern day. (ANI)

Filed under: Snake

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