BOGOTA, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- Fossilized remains of a 42-foot-long, 2,500-pound snake discovered in northeastern Colombia represent the biggest snake ever found, scientists say.
The researchers, led by Jason Head of the University of Toronto, estimate the snake, called Titanoboa cerrejonensis, lived 58 million to 60 million years ago, the BBC reported Wednesday.
By comparison, the heaviest snakes living today, the green anacondas, weigh only about 550 pounds and reticulated pythons can reach about 32 feet long.
The researchers used the mathematical relationship between the size of vertebrae and the length of the body in living snakes to project the size of the prehistoric serpent.
"At its greatest width, the snake would have come up to about your hips. The size is pretty amazing," said co-author P. David Polly of Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind.
The snake fossil was found at Cerrejon, one of the world's largest open-pit coal mines. It was related to today's boa constrictors.
"Probably like an anaconda, it spent a lot of time in the water," Polly said.
"It would have needed to eat a lot. What its prey was exactly, we don't know. But it probably included alligators, big fish or crocodiles."
The researchers' findings were reported in the Nature scientific journal.