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Sanajeh

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sanajeh

Sanajeh (Wikimedia Commons)

Name:

Sanajeh (Sanskrit for "ancient gape"); pronounced SAN-ah-jeh

Habitat:

Woodlands of India

Historical Period:

Late Cretaceous (70-65 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 11 feet long and 25-50 pounds

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Moderate size; limited articulation of jaws

 

About Sanajeh:

In March of 2010, paleontologists in India announced a stunning discovery: the remains of an 11-foot-long prehistoric snake, Sanajeh, found coiled around the newly hatched egg of an unidentified genus of titanosaur. Sanajeh was far from the biggest prehistoric snake of all time--that honor, for now, belongs to the 50-foot long Titanoboa--but it's the first of its kind known to have preyed on dinosaurs, albeit wee, baby ones measuring no more than a foot or two from head to tail.

You might think a sauropod-gobbling snake would be able to open its mouth unusually wide, but that wasn't the case with Sanajeh, the jaws of which were more limited in their range of motion than those of modern snakes. However, other anatomical characteristics of Sanajeh's skull allowed it to efficiently use its "narrow gape" to swallow larger-than-usual prey, which probably also included the hatchlings of prehistoric crocodiles and theropod dinosaurs.

 

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