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<< Into the Mountains "Snake!" The Tree Stumps >>

"Snake!" is one of the periods of the xkcd comic Time, within the Mountain Era.
It lasted from frame 1726 to frame 1765.

During this period, as Megan and Cueball continue into the mountains, Cueball is climbing a ledge
Xkcd time 20130531 1400


when he is surprised to see a snake. In his shock he exclaims "Snake!" and jumps/looses his grip and footing and falls from the ledge onto Megan below. After establishing that they are both okay and Cueball was not bit, she asks what kind it was. He describes it as "Brownish and shiny. Kind of blotchy." She asks if it had spikes over its eyes, which he denies before adding, "It was weird. Stubby at both ends. Like it forgot to have a head and tail." Megan has "no idea" what kind of snake that would be, but they decide to go around and watch their feet.

To portray "going around" the snake, Cuegan turn their backs to the viewer and we see 3 frames of changing 3D "slices," as was used for a more prolonged sequence during the Third Journey Period when they walked along the first part of the River. After returning to their typical right-facing profile stance, Megan starts climbing the ledge first, confirms that there are no snakes, and they both ascend the ledge and continue their journey.

Discussion of the snakeEdit

Much discussion ensued in the One True Thread regarding what kind of snake they were seeing and what the implications of the various candidates were for the setting of the comic. Some of the proposals included:

  • Before Cueball mentioned the stubby ends, the brown, blotchy description quickly led proponents of the Madagascar Theory to propose the Madagascar ground boa as the snake, but after Cueball's description of the stubby ends a large amount of doubt fell upon this proposal, as this type of boa has a very distinct head.
  • Other premature Madagascar proposals similarly troubled by the later stubby-ended comment included the Madagascar giant hognose snake (which was noted to lift its head as the snake in the comic does) and the Madagascar cat-eyed snake. The Madagascar-ists additionally were confounded by Megan's suggestion that there were snakes (albeit not this one, according to Cueball) in the area they were in with horns above the eyes, which doesn't match any known species in Madagascar.
  • The mention of the stubby ends propelled the Calabar Python quickly to the forerunner status of candidate snakes (a position it arguably still holds), as it does in fact seem to match the full description given. However, as the Calabar is not found in Madagascar, but rather only in mainland Africa, this led to a renewal of interest and support for a formerly disregarded counter to the Madagascar theory known as the Africa Theory which was reinforced by renewed reminders that squirrels, like the one Megan met are not to be found in
    Calabar Python (Boa) 4

    The brown and blotchy, stubby Calabar python.

    Madagascar, but are on the mainland. This in turn led to a renewal of the earlier debate surrounding the very Madagascar-specific Baobab Trees and whether or not Randall merely used the wrong type of Baobab as a reference, still intending mainland Africa as the setting of the comic. Meanwhile, so cited the fact that the trees were very clearly from Madagascar while the snake was very clearly not as continuing evidence for the third main rival setting-explanation, the Randallverse Theory, though some wondered why, if it was a fictional Randallverse, would he give so many very specific clues within the comic. Surprisingly, the only main skepticism of the Calabar actually came from other Africanists, who believe that the evidence for Africa is strong, but doubt the Calabar because it primarily inhabits only thick rainforest. Thic claim was debated and both sides put forward various sources regarding Calabar habitation ranges.
  • In a rebuttal to the sudden Africanist surge, the Madagascarist camp quickly put forward the Grandidier's worm snake, which is native to Madagascar. Skepticism was raised about both the degree to which the snake actually fits the description of being either blotchy or brown, as well as whether or not it was big enough to be the snake in the comic.

Molpy sightings during this periodEdit

Obviously, this period is significantly defined by the encounter with the snake, a welcome sighting after the previous period contained absolutely no molpy sightings at all.

The snake was about 2/3 q in length. It was spotted by the followers of the thread moving forward after its first frame of discernable movement (1727), a full 12 frames before it was spotted by Cueball. The snake is seen moving forward and waiting atop the ledge throughout that time, and after Cueball's startled reaction to seeing it, it also appears startled and appears to very quickly retreat into some sort of nearby burrow in the ground. It initially moved from a position further back from the burrow it later retreats into.

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