San Diego Natural History Museum--Your Nature Connection[BRCC San Diego Natural History Museum: Paleontology]
Fossil Snake

State Route 56: May 2000

Museum paleontologist Brad Riney recently discovered the partial skeleton of a large fossil snake at a City of San Diego construction project. The specimen consists of a disarticulated skull, vertebrae, and ribs. Preliminary study suggests that the snake is an extinct species related to modern boas of the family Boidae and probably measured close to 8 feet in length when alive. This unusual fossil was discovered in a mudstone stratum within the Friars Formation, a 45 million year old fluvial deposit. The stratum was exposed by excavation equipment working to build a section of the State Route 56 freeway alignment between Rancho Penasquitos and Carmel Valley.

[Fossil snake bones]

1. Ptyergoid   2. Palatine jaw with teeth   3. Lower left jaw
4. Rib bones   5. Maxilla with teeth   6. Vertebrae

Text and photograph: Dr. Tom Deméré