They Found Howard’s Snake
Friday, February 13, 2009
posted by Steve Trout
I hate snakes; they are possessed of a cold, utterly merciless cynicism and sophistication, and sense of super-ego that puts them outside the pale of warm-blooded creatures.
– Robert E. Howard to H. P. Lovecraft, ca. February 1931
“The visionary explorer, Col. P. H. Fawcett, claimed to have seen a 48-foot anaconda, but I don’t believe it.”
– L.Sprague de Camp, REHupa #57
Novalyne: Well, I haven’t seen any giant snakes, or big-busted naked women frolicking through the West Texas hills lately.
Robert: Oh, but I have.
– The Whole Wide World
From recent science news:
It was the mother of all snakes, a nightmarish behemoth as long as a school bus and as heavy as a Volkswagen Beetle that ruled the ancient Amazonian rain forest for 2 million years before slithering into nonexistence. Now this monster, which weighed in at 2,500 pounds, has resurfaced in fossils taken from an open-pit coal mine in Colombia, a startling example of growth gone wild.
“This is amazing. It challenges everything we know about how big a snake can be.”"This thing weighs more than a bison and is longer than a city bus,” enthused snake expert Jack Conrad of the American Museum of Natural History in New York, who was familiar with the find.
“It could easily eat something the size of a cow. A human would just be toast immediately.”"If it tried to enter my office to eat me, it would have a hard time squeezing through the door,” reckoned paleontologist Jason Head of the University of Toronto Missisauga.
To give de Camp due credit, he was aware of the Gigantophis, a prehistoric python that was the previous record holder at 30-33 feet. And while boas get very large, they do not have the optimal climate for growth that Titanoboa apparently did — really hot, steaming jungles such as Howard assured us was Satha’s natural habitat.