IIT Roorkee professors discover fossil of 47-million-year-old snake in Gujarat: ‘One of the largest known’ | Trending - Hindustan Times

IIT Roorkee professors discover fossil of 47-million-year-old snake in Gujarat: ‘One of the largest known’

Apr 19, 2024 04:36 PM IST

IIT Roorkee professors who discovered the fossil believe the 47-million-year-old snake is estimated to be 11-15 metres long. It weighed almost a tonne.

Researchers at the Department of Earth Sciences at IIT-Roorkee made a groundbreaking discovery in Gujarat, unearthing the fossil of a 47-million-year-old snake. The snake is touted to be “one of largest known terrestrial snakes that ever lived”.

The image shows some of the vertebrae discovered in Gujarat by IIT Roorkee professors. (X/@iitroorkee)
The image shows some of the vertebrae discovered in Gujarat by IIT Roorkee professors. (X/@iitroorkee)

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According to the study published in ‘Scientific Reports’, the snake was named Vasuki indicus by the scientists after the snake king associated with Lord Shiva. Vasuki belonged to the extinct Madtsoiidae snake family, estimated to be 11-15 metres long and must have weighed almost a tonne. Scientists have recovered 27 vertebrae from it. The snake, if it was alive, would have looked like a large python and would not have been venomous.

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The species belonged to the now-extinct Madtsoiidae snake family and represented a unique lineage that originated in India, as per the study. The study further revealed that the size of the snake is comparable to the longest known to have ever lived - the extinct Titanoboa. The snake is believed to have existed for around 100 million years from “Late Cretaceous” to “Late Pleistocene” and lived in a broad geographical range of Africa, Europe and India.

IIT Roorkee shared a post on X about the discovery with the caption, “IIT Roorkee's Prof. Sunil Bajpai & Debajit Datta discovered Vasuki Indicus, a 47-million-year-old snake species in Kutch, Gujarat. Estimated at 11-15 meters, this extinct snake sheds light on India's prehistoric biodiversity. Published in Scientific Reports.”

Take a look at the post shared by IIT Roorkee here:

“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,” Debajit Datta, a postdoctoral researcher in palaeontology at IIT Roorkee and the lead author of the study, told The Guardian.

Sunil Bajpai, a palaeontologist, professor at Roorkee and the study’s co-author, told the outlet, “The estimated body length of Vasuki is comparable to that of Titanoboa, although the vertebrae of Titanoboa are slightly larger than those of Vasuki. However, at this point, we cannot say if Vasuki was more massive or slender compared to Titanoboa.”

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    Arfa Javaid is a journalist working with the Hindustan Times' Delhi team. She covers trending topics, human interest stories, and viral content online.

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