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The Legend of the Congos 50ft-Snake Captured by Colonel Remy Van Lierde in 1959

Anaconda from Helicopter by Colonel Remy Van Lierde in 1959

The legend of a 50-foot anaconda primarily stems from accounts by Belgian pilot Remy Van Lierde, who claimed to have seen an enormous snake while flying over the Congo in 1959. Van Lierde reported spotting a massive anaconda that measured an estimated 50 feet in length as it lay partially submerged near a river. He even claimed to have photographed the snake from his aircraft.

Examination of the Evidence

Green anaconda, eunectes murinus, Pantanal in Brazil. Anaconda. Via Depositphotos.

Photographic Proof

Colonel Remy Van Lierde in 1959

While Van Lierde’s photograph exists, it is inconclusive. The photo shows a large snake, but determining its exact size from an aerial shot is challenging. Critics argue that the snake’s size could be exaggerated due to the angle, distance, and lack of scale reference in the image. Moreover, the photograph’s quality is not sufficient to provide definitive proof of a 50-foot anaconda.

Biological Possibility

Anaconda. Via Depositphotos.

Anacondas, particularly the green anaconda (Eunectes murinus), are known to be the largest and heaviest snakes in the world. The largest verified specimens can reach lengths of 20 to 30 feet. While a 50-foot anaconda is theoretically possible, it would be an extreme outlier, far exceeding the typical size range. The largest snakes, including reticulated pythons and anacondas, have well-documented maximum sizes that fall short of the 50-foot mark.

Scientific Skepticism

Green anaconda
Green Anaconda, eunectes murinus, Los Lianos in Venezuela. Image via Deposit Photos.

Herpetologists and snake experts generally view the 50-foot anaconda story with skepticism. No scientifically verified anaconda or any other snake has ever been documented at such a length. Additionally, an anaconda of that size would require an enormous amount of food and a suitable habitat to support its growth, making it unlikely to go unnoticed in the wild.

The Power of Myth and Legend

Anaconda in the water

The story of the 50-foot anaconda persists partly because of humanity’s fascination with giant creatures and the mysteries of unexplored regions. The Congo, with its dense rainforests and remote areas, provides a perfect backdrop for such tales. Stories of enormous snakes, giant crocodiles, and other mythical creatures have been part of various cultures for centuries, often blending fact with fiction.

The Impact of Anecdotal Evidence

Green anaconda Via Depositphotos.

While anecdotal evidence like Van Lierde’s account can be compelling, it is not sufficient to establish the existence of a 50-foot anaconda. Scientific documentation requires repeatable observations, physical evidence, and peer-reviewed research. Without these, such stories remain intriguing but unproven.

What is the scientific name of the green anaconda?

close up of anaconda

The scientific name of the green anaconda is Eunectes murinus.

How long can green anacondas grow?

Green Anaconda, eunectes murinus, Pantanal in Brazil. Anaconda. Via Depositphotos.

Green anacondas can grow up to 20 to 30 feet in length, making them one of the longest snake species in the world.

How much can an anaconda weigh?

Green anaconda (Eunectes murinus) swimming underwater. Wildlife animal. Anaconda. Via Depositphotos.

Anacondas can weigh over 500 pounds, with some of the largest individuals reaching this impressive weight.

Where do anacondas primarily live?

Close up photo of yellow anaconda crawling on black background. Python lying in the sun on the grass. Python Image via Depositphotos.

Anacondas are primarily found in the tropical rainforests, swamps, and marshes of South America, especially in the Amazon and Orinoco basins.

What do anacondas eat?

Python Image via Depositphotos.

Anacondas are carnivorous and prey on a variety of animals, including fish, birds, mammals (such as capybaras and deer), and even caimans.

How do anacondas kill their prey?

yellow anaconda — image by PantherMediaSeller via Depositphotos

Anacondas are constrictors, meaning they wrap around their prey and squeeze tightly until the prey suffocates.

Can anacondas swim?

Green Anaconda Image Via Depositphotos.

Yes, anacondas are excellent swimmers and spend a significant amount of time in the water, where they are most agile and efficient hunters.

How do anacondas reproduce?

Green anaconda
Green anaconda. Image via Depositphotos

Anacondas are ovoviviparous, meaning females give birth to live young rather than laying eggs. The female retains the eggs inside her body until they hatch.

How many offspring can a female anaconda produce?

green anaconda
Green Anaconda

A female anaconda can give birth to a litter of 20 to 40 live young, although litters of up to 100 have been reported.

Are anacondas dangerous to humans?

Yellow Anaconda (Eunectes notaeus)
Yellow Anaconda (Eunectes notaeus) By Ben P – https://www.inaturalist.org/photos/97943548, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=116575174

While anacondas are capable of harming humans, attacks are extremely rare. They are generally reclusive and avoid human contact.

How long do anacondas live?

green anaconda
Green Anaconda, eunectes murinus, Los Lianos in Venezuela. Image via Depositphotos

Anacondas can live up to 10 years in the wild, although they may live longer in captivity.

Why are female anacondas larger than males?

Green anaconda (Eunectes murinus).
Green anaconda (Eunectes murinus). Image by wrangel via Depositphotos

Female anacondas are larger than males due to sexual dimorphism. This size difference helps females carry and produce more offspring.

What adaptations help anacondas hunt in their environment?

Green anaconda
Green anaconda By Fernando Flores – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33121956

Anacondas have powerful bodies for constricting prey, camouflaged skin for blending into aquatic vegetation, and sensitive heat-sensing pits to detect warm-blooded prey.

How do anacondas digest their food?

Close up of an anaconda.
© Egor Kamelev: https://www.pexels.com/photo/closeup-photo-of-anaconda-751676/

Anacondas have highly efficient digestive systems that allow them to break down and absorb nutrients from large prey, taking days or even weeks to digest a meal fully.

What is the largest verified anaconda on record?

Green Anaconda
Green Anaconda. By Kai Squires – https://www.inaturalist.org/photos/61739178, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=116575512

The largest verified anaconda on record was over 29 feet long and weighed about 550 pounds, though unverified reports suggest even larger specimens exist.

Conclusion

Colonel Remy Van Lierde in 1959

The tale of a 50-foot anaconda in the Congo continues to capture the imagination, but it lacks definitive scientific backing. While anacondas can grow to impressive sizes, reaching lengths of 50 feet is highly unlikely based on current evidence. The story remains a fascinating piece of modern folklore, highlighting the allure of the unknown and the enduring human fascination with giant serpents. Until more concrete evidence surfaces, the 50-foot anaconda will remain a legendary creature of the Congo.

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