Quick Gigantophis Facts
- Lived during the Late Eocene Period
- Lived in what is now Asia and Africa
- Longer than a reticulated python
- May have preyed on Moeritherium
- Was a Carnivore
Gigantophis is an extinct snake which lived approximately 40 million to 35 million years ago during the Late Eocene Period. It was first discovered around the turn of the 20th century in Africa and was named in 1901 by Charles William Andrews. He named it Gigantophis – a name which means “giant snake.”
One of the most interesting facts about Gigantophis is that it was considered the largest snake to have ever lived for over a hundred years, from its discovery in 1901 all the way up to 2009. That is when Titanoboa was discovered – a snake which was quite a bit bigger than Gigantophis.
Although this snake wasn’t the largest to have ever lived, that doesn’t mean that it was by any means small. If you look at Gigantophis pictures, then you will clearly see that it was still a pretty big snake. It was approximately 33 feet long and weighed around 1000 pounds. That’s a full 17 feet shorter and 1500 pounds lighter than Titanoboa. However, it still is larger than a reticulated python – which is considered to be the longest snake living today.
Based on the hunting habits of modern snakes, paleontologists have concluded that Gigantophis probably spent its time hunting some of the megafauna mammals such as Moeritherium, Andrewsarchus and Auroch. Most likely, it would have wrapped itself around its prey and then constricted them until they asphyxiated. Then it would have swallowed them whole and digested them at its own leisure.
Since its discovery in 1901, Gigantophis has been represented by one species: G. garstini. However, that may soon change. Another fossil was discovered in 2014 in Pakistan, which does two things for this genus of snakes. One, it means these snakes had a larger range than paleontologists thought and lived in not only Africa but Asia as well. Two, it means that other species of these snakes may be discovered in the future.