When illustrators embark upon a new illustration, hours of research and work go into constructing a scene that is believable, powerful, and informative. In 2009, when James Gurney was tasked with reconstructing Titanoboa, the largest snake that ever lived, his first priority was conveying the sheer size of a 48-foot long, 2500-lb. beast. Ultimately, he decided to depict the snake taking down a full-sized crocodile, but had trouble finding useful reference materials. He scoured YouTube for battles between snakes and crocs, but most of the battles seemed to be between caimans and alligators and took place largely underwater, where the splashing was fierce but ultimately not informative. What he would have given to have this video for reference, taken earlier this month in northern Queensland, Australia:


But he didn't have it, and in the end, Gurney just sculpted his own reference material, as he so often does. You can see how he created the epic illustration in two parts (Part 1, Part 2) on his blog, Gurney Journey. Here's the final image. I think you'll agree he did a decent job. (ZOMG!)

Titanoboa by James Gurney

Titanoboa by James Gurney, used with permission