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Thursday, June 28, 2012

The biggest, baddest snake in Washington, D.C.

Is not found in the halls of Congress.

Nor on the airways (sorry, Rush).

The biggest and baddest is at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.

This snake is not for the squeamish.  Nor for anyone who has snake dreams.  (Huh?)

This granddaddy of granddaddy snakes is huge:  Estimated to have weighed 2,500 lbs., be 48 feet long and the size of a school bus.  It looks so real you will cringe upon sighting it slithering around on the museum's floor.  

Stand back!

"Whoa, buddy!  This is one big snake!  Yeekers!  Yikers!  Here, have a crocodile."/Patricia Leslie

It may have come from a warming of the Earth which allowed it to grow big and powerful in a gigantic hot and tropical ancient rainforest which may say something to global warming skeptics.

(You know what's happening on the East Coast, right?  Not only do we have to fear drowning from rising waters, but now, there's the possibility of being consumed by huge snakes, able to eat five people in a single gulp.  Consider circumstances in the Everglades in Florida where giant pythons, boas (please read below), and anacondas slide hither and thither over the swamplands taking control and eating and chasing away inhabitants. It's a coup de snakes.  Soon, the Florida residents who are left will be forced to flee north, leaving no one there to vote which means our future may be determined by snakes.  Hey, didn't this happen already?) 

But wait, there's even more to the story which all began with a single leaf.

"I have got to text Lucille.  She is not going to believe this.  For a minute, I thought I was at the used tire store."/Patricia Leslie

About ten years ago in South America was a student who visited a coal mine in La Guajira, Columbia where he discovered a fossilized leaf.  This one little leaf of his strengthened scientific studies and "data-driven evidence" that helped reveal the existence of an ancient hot and tropical rainforest, maybe the first one on Earth, which thrived during a period of global warming in the Paleocene epoch.  (That would be after the dinosaurs roamed, or about 60 million years ago.)

Colossal turtles and crocodiles and bean plants, oh my, were found.  (Their fossils, that is.) But the most exciting finds were the fossilized vertebra and fragments of three snake skulls which enabled scientists to replicate what the gargantuan monster looked like. 

The experts, I think, are unsure of its gender, however, based upon experience and its nickname, Tyrannosnakus rush, I can say with certainty that Tyrannosnakus is a male who (which?) is going on a 15-city tour right after Titanoboa (his real name and yes, related to the boa) finishes residency at the Smithsonian early next year.

The sign says "Stand back or risk person." A Smithsonian Channel official, Josh Gross, said the snake model was constructed from Styrofoam, fiberglass, textured epoxy and paint./Patricia Leslie

A video of this specialized beast is available for purchase, and a version screens continuously in Titanoboa's exhibition area which shows how Tyrannosnakus rush moved.  Not to miss!
Baby wants a crocodile for dinner?  Baby gets a crocodile for dinner/Patricia Leslie

What:  Titanoboa:  The biggest snake in the world!

When:  Now through January 6, 2013, every day (except Christmas Day) from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. or, on most summer nights through Labor Day, until 7:30 p.m.  Check the website for hours for the planned day of your visit.

Where: The Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History at the corner of 10th and Constitution, N.W.

How  much:  No charge

Metro station: Smithsonian

For more information: 202-633-1000

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