If you have a fear of snakes, the latest exhibit at the University of Nebraska State Museum in Morrill Hall might make your skin crawl.
The exhibit doesn’t feature a replica of what most people would consider a “normal snake.” Rather, it features a realistic, full-scale replica of Titanoboa, the world’s largest snake.
Titanoboa, which lived 60 million years ago, measured in at 48 feet long and weighed up to an estimated 2,500 pounds. The massive snake could crush and devour a crocodile.
The traveling Smithsonian exhibit, “Titanoboa: Monster Snake,” will be on display through Sept. 7 at Morrill Hall, one block south of 14th and Vine streets in Lincoln.
The exhibit includes fossils and bones of Titanoboa and modern reptiles, exhibits on past environments and clips from the Smithsonian Channel documentary, “Titanoboa: Monster Snake.” Visitors can learn about the discovery, reconstruction and implications of this giant reptile.
The exhibition is a collaboration between the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the Florida Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service.
The surprising discovery of Titanoboa was made by a team of scientists about five years ago while working in the world’s largest open-pit coal mine at Cerrejon in La Guajira, Colombia. They also discovered giant turtles the size of pool tables and large snub-nosed crocodiles, as well as the first-known bean plants and some of the earliest banana, avocado and chocolate plants.
Jason Head, assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and curator of vertebrate paleontology in the Nebraska State Museum, teamed with Jonathan Bloch of the Florida Museum of Natural History and Carlos Jaramillo of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute to learn more about how Titanoboa lived and hunted.
The fossilized remains revealed that, after the extinction of the dinosaurs, the tropics were warmer than today and witnessed the birth of the South American rainforest. There, huge creatures fought to become the top predators.
That era was dominated by Titanoboa. Its vertebra measured 5 ½ inches wide, which dwarfs that of a modern anaconda. The anaconda is the largest snake currently alive, averaging 20 feet long.
The University of Nebraska State Museum in Morrill Hall is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Wednesday and Friday-Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays and 1:30-4:30 p.m. Sundays.
Admission is $6 for adults (19 and over), $3 for children (5-18 years) and $13 for families (up to two adults and children). Parking is free in front of the museum.