Mu­seum names new species of di­nosaur af­ter Ghost­busters char­ac­ter

Edmonton Journal - - CITY - PETER CAMERON

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.

BRIAN BOYLE/ROYAL ON­TARIO MU­SEUM

The skull of a Zuul cruri­vas­ta­tor is one of the most com­plete and best pre­served skele­tons of this group of di­nosaurs ever found.

DANIELLE DUFAULT/ROYAL ON­TARIO MU­SEUM

The club-like tail of a Zuul cruri­vas­ta­tor would have crushed the shins of any at­tacker, sci­en­tists say.

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