Africa Facts Q&ATips

Has a snake ever swallowed an elephant?

It happened famously in fiction, but also occurred in reality. Yes! A snake has swallowed an elephant. It all happened in Africa about 40 million years ago.

In Africa, about 40 million years ago, a beastly and horrifying snake, man’s second-largest known Gigantophis Garstini, wandered the prehistoric landscape. They are the deadly giant snakes. They killed and swallowed their prey.

Comparison of the sizes of various species of snakes, both current and extinct.
Comparison of the sizes of various species of snakes, both current and extinct.

Gigantophis Garstini was considered the largest snake ever registered. They lived about 40 million years ago during the Eocene epoch of the Paleogene Period, in the Paratethys Sea, within the northern Sahara, where Egypt and Algeria are now located.

According to the estimates from Jason Head, Smithsonian Institution in Washington, the extinct snake could grow from 9.3 to 10.7 meters in length. Also, 10 percent longer than present-day largest snakes. The monstrous reptile also squeezed the life out of its prey with its vast constrictor.

It is believed that the snake fed on small trunks (proboscideans), of then, once such a primitive elephant was Moeriterium.

The Proboscidea is a taxonomic order of afrotherian mammals containing one living family (Elephantidae) and several extinct families. In comparison, Moeritherium is an extinct genus of primitive proboscideans. These prehistoric mammals are related to the elephant. They lived during the Eocene epoch.

It is assumed that the giant snake could have killed and swallowed the elephants during the Eocene epoch.

Illustration of giant snake swallowing an elephant

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