Written by Staff Writer at CNN
From T. rex to Brontosaurus, there is no debate that dinosaurs were big. But could one of the world’s largest creatures — one weighing in at more than a ton — have ever walked the Earth?
Believed to be a new species, the new dinosaur, nicknamed Niconosaurus — meaning “ball python” — was discovered in 1959 by Hartmut Weiböcke and Robert Frohlich in Füssen, Germany. Now experts believe they’ve uncovered another layer to the enormous animal’s evolutionary story.
The fossil is the largest ever found of the immense species, and scientists say the discovery will shed new light on Niconosaurus.
The Niconosaurus, now named Niconosaurus fusiliensis, was thought to be a brontosaurus-type species with a long neck. But according to John Redfield, an assistant professor at the American Museum of Natural History, the new fossil shows Niconosaurus may have been a complex kind of dinosaur with multiple distinct personalities.
“This animal had a number of different dinosaur stages, making it one of the most complex species of dinosaurs to date,” he said in a statement.
The new discovery shows Niconosaurus may have had multiple distinct personalities. Credit: American Museum of Natural History, New York/USA Today Network – Benoit Bonnier, Getty Images/OJO Images
At a length of 65 feet, the fossil weighs about 80 tons. And the fossilization has allowed researchers to track the movements of the dinosaur.
“Niconosaurus was an omnivore, not a vegetarian dinosaur,” said Redfield. “And it was surrounded by plants during the day and meat at night, like many other dinosaurs.
“This dinosaur isn’t shy of competition either. Most of the time we don’t see its silhouette (and) have it retreating like a small little animal, but this newfound fossil shows how Niconosaurus behaved alongside a much more substantial predator — like a large raptor — during its hunting.”
The discovery of Niconosaurus comes two years after researchers proved the long-necked reptile truly is a brontosaurus.