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Giant Snake

March 9, 2009

A super-sized snake in prehistoric Colombia tells scientists about the future of global warming.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
A hot story about a big snake. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Scientists recently found bones from a 60-million year old giant snake in Colombia – a snake that weighed a ton, and was as long as a school bus. Paleontologist Jonathan Bloch of the Florida Museum of Natural History was on the team. He says the find also tells us about climate, because cold-blooded animals depend on ambient heat for their metabolism.

JONATHAN BLOCH (Florida Museum of Natural History, Univ. of Florida):
Snakes that are living in the warmest climates today are as large as they can get, for the temperature that they live at. In order to make a larger snake, you have to increase the mean annual temperature.

HIRSHON:
Bloch says it must have been ten degrees hotter in Colombia back then – contrary to a leading theory that tropical climates don’t change as much as others. So today’s warming trend may have an even wider impact than we thought. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society