What Is the top World’s Largest Snake?

snakes are thought to have evolved from lizards, with the first specimens appearing in the fossil record during the Jurassic Period, between 143 and 167 million years ago. They diversified and modern snakes emerged after the extinction of the dinosaurs, 66 million years ago.

There are now more than 3,000 species of snake on the planet, with 600 of these being venomous.

They one of the most dangerous animals on Earth. The World Health Organization estimates that between 80,000 and 138,000 people die from snake bites each year.

The size of snakes varies widely between species, with the smallest measuring just four inches in length. But what of the biggest?

The longest snake
Graham Alexander, professor of herpetology at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa, told Newsweek that estimates of how long a snake is should always be taken “with a pinch of salt,” as they are often exaggerated.

‘Snake oil’: doubts loom over tech firm Darktrace’s high-octane sales strategy
The UK cybersecurity outfit has been on a rollercoaster ride from a meteoric share price rise to a plunge in market value

A man looking at the website for Darktrace a cyber-security developer on his iPad.
Darktrace’s security products are pitched as the digital equivalent of the human body’s ability to fight off illness with an ‘autonomous response capability’ to tackle threats without instruction as they are detected. Photograph: True

Darktrace is a well-oiled sales and marketing machine, as slick and turbocharged as the multimillion-pound McLaren Formula One sponsorship deal it uses to entice prospective clients, and yet the cybersecurity company continues to be overshadowed by questions about its technology and founding investor.

On the face of it, Darktrace is a great British tech success story. It was founded in Cambridge nine years ago by an alliance of mathematicians, former spies from GCHQ and artificial intelligence (AI) experts. Its market value hit almost £7bn within months of its stock market float last April as investors clamoured for a stake in the promise of a rare European superpower in the US-dominated cybersecurity space.

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And yet Darktrace has been on a rollercoaster journey since then. The meteoric share price rise post-IPO that rapidly elevated Darktrace to the FTSE 100 lasted just three months until a wave of negative sentiment pushed down the company’s market value from its £10 peak, relegating it from the premium index of blue-chip companies listed in London.

Yesterday it became the biggest faller on London’s FTSE 250 market – crashing almost 15% or 62p to close at 362p – as the flight to safety triggered by the Ukraine crisis and jitters over the wider reassessment of mostly US-based tech stocks made investors turn a sceptical eye to its business.

Earlier this month, short-seller Shadowfall, which is understood to have a small short position in Darktrace, became the latest critic to weigh in after a Darktrace investor update that led to a momentary spike in its shares – a strategy one analyst has dubbed a deliberate “beat and raise” strategy to show consistent outperformance.

Matthew Earl, who heads the Shadowfall fund, has joined analysts Peel Hunt in calling Darktrace’s model and culture into question, warning clients in a note that the company’s model is “watery-thin” and based more on sales style than business substance.

“What frustrates me generally is there always seems to be a mostly one-sided view of these things,” says Earl. “No one really addresses the risks associated with these sorts of businesses. With Darktrace there is a plethora of risks that have simply not been properly assessed. The [positive] trading update has not deterred us. I’m going to let time and gravity take its course. We have done a lot of homework on this company. And we are still looking into other angles, our thesis is broad.”

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The company has long become used to dealing with the ongoing questions about Mike Lynch who, along with his wife, Angela Bacares, is Darktrace’s second-largest shareholder, and whose Invoke Capital was the company’s first and biggest shareholder.

It is native to South and Southeast Asia and can be found in rainforests, woodlands, and nearby grasslands. The python is a good swimmer and has in some instances been found far out to sea.

Alexander said: “We should remember that captive specimens may have the potential to reach larger sizes than wild ones on account of a steady food supply and a lack of predation in captivity.

“I do know that there are a couple of cases of Burmese python and reticulated python reaching lengths of around 26 feet in captivity. These are truly exceptional.”

Pythons are non-venomous and kill their prey by suffocation. They use the momentum of a strike to wrap themselves around their victim, squeezing a little more tightly every time the prey exhales.

Alexander said that while pythons can be huge in length, the danger they pose tends to depend on their evolutionary history with humans: “Giant pythons in Asia, such as Burmese and reticulated Pythons, may on occasion view humans as a potential meal. They have not had the long evolutionary history with humans as African pythons have.

“In my opinion, African pythons exclude humans as prey because humans are just too dangerous—pythons that take humans usually end up dead, which has selected that taste out of the population. As with anecdotal reports on giant snakes in general, there is a lot of exaggeration.”

The heaviest snake
In terms of mass, there is no beating the green anaconda.

A member of the boa family, green anacondas are non-venomous and use their strong jaws to capture their prey. They then suffocate it before swallowing it whole.

They are also highly aquatic and spend nearly all their time in water. According to Alexander, green anacondas can exceed 220 pounds on occasion and reach up to 16 feet in length.

“There will probably be exceptional individuals that are significantly larger but I do not believe reports of 10m [32.8ft] snakes in the wild,” he said.

“In my opinion, I would not think that anacondas have humans on their menus since anacondas, especially large individuals, tend to ambush from water in swampy wetlands and so the potential for meeting humans there is slim, unless the humans are researchers specifically looking for the snakes.”

The biggest venomous snake
Venomous snakes tend to be smaller in size as they don’t have to rely on suffocating their pray.

Alexander said the king cobra is one of the world’s largest venomous snakes, growing on average up to 13 feet. There have been some reports, however, of it growing up to 18 feet.

King cobras in live in South and Southeast Asia, and are classed as vulnerable with their population decreasing, Despite having an aggressive reputation, the king cobra is actually much more cautious than many smaller snakes

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