Museum names new species of dinosaur after Ghostbusters character
TORONTO Scientists from the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto say they’ve identified a new species of armoured dinosaur and named it after a monster from the 1984 movie Ghostbusters.
The museum says it acquired the skeleton of Zuul crurivastator last year, and calls it one of the most complete and best-preserved skeletons of this group of dinosaurs ever found.
Officials say it includes a complete skull and tail club, and preserved
The spikes ... down Zuul’s tail were a fantastic surprise ... like nothing I’ve ever seen in a North American ankylosaur.
soft tissues. It was found in Montana, only 25 kilometres from the Alberta border, in badlands along the Milk River.
Research on the new species, which the museum says was about the size of a white rhinoceros, is published in the May 10 issue of the open-access journal Royal Society Open Science.
The museum says the 75-million-year-old, plant-eating dinosaur was named after “Zuul,” the Ghostbusters monster, based on the features of its well-preserved skull — a short, rounded snout and prominent horns behind the eyes.
Its species name, crurivastator, means “destroyer of shins,” and references the weapon-like tail club found with the skeleton.
Zuul belongs to the ankylosaurid ankylosaurs family of dinosaurs, which have a large knob of bone at the tip of their stiffened tails, which could have been used to strike at the legs of predatory dinosaurs in defence, or may have been used to battle each other during contests for mates or territory.
Zuul’s three-metre-long tail also has many rows of large, sharp bony spikes, in addition to the tail club, making it particularly menacing.
“I’ve been working on ankylosaurs for years, and the spikes running all the way down Zuul’s tail were a fantastic surprise to me — like nothing I’ve ever seen in a North American ankylosaur,” said Victoria Arbour, an expert on armoured dinosaurs and lead author of the study.
“It was the size and shape of the tail club and tail spikes, combined with the shape of the horns and ornaments on the skull, that confirmed this skeleton was a new species of ankylosaur,” Arbour said.
The new dinosaur was discovered after its nearly complete skeleton was excavated from the Judith River Formation of Montana, where remains of some of the first dinosaurs ever discovered in North America have been collected.
Zuul is one of the most complete and best-preserved ankylosaurs ever discovered, with skin impressions preserved on the tail, and the keratin sheaths preserved on some of the armour spikes, the ROM said. “The preservation of the fossil is truly remarkable,” said the museum’s David Evans, a leader of the project.
The skull of a Zuul crurivastator is one of the most complete and best preserved skeletons of this group of dinosaurs ever found.
The club-like tail of a Zuul crurivastator would have crushed the shins of any attacker, scientists say.