The dinosaur was found in Montana, very close to the Alberta border. Some of the first dinosaur fossils found in North America were unearthed from the same site. No, not the demon dog from “Ghostbusters”, but that is this newly identified dinosaur’s namesake.
With Zuul becoming the first ankylosaur named after an element belonging to nerd culture, we are excited to see what will come next.
The skull of a new dinosaur named Zuul crurivastator is shown in this undated handout photo. The species is described in the journal Royal Society Open Science. Researchers dated the dinosaur to some 75 million years ago – not long before the mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs.
“Not only is the skeleton nearly completely intact, but large parts of the bony armour in the skin are still in its natural position”, Evans, the leader of the project, said. The fossil is so well-preserved than it even preserves the armor plate.
The skeleton had to be broken up into several pieces in order to be removed.
Scientists at the museum were inspired to name the creature after the small, diabolical dog-like Zuul despite being anything but – clocking in at a whopping 20 feet long and weighing more than 2.5 tons. According to Victoria Arbour, a Ph.D. fellow at the ROM and University of Toronto, finding a full dinosaur skeleton is a rare feat especially uncommon for this group of dinosaurs. “They’re just not as common”. They were clad in bony armor from the snout to the end of the tail, often with spikes and a tail club that could be used to smash the legs of predators like the Tyrannosaurus rex cousin Gorgosaurus that lived alongside Zuul.
Incidental to all of this Zuul-iness is this skeleton’s “complete tail club”. Also, the tissue was so well preserved that researchers were still able to see spikes still attached to the dinosaur.
While the dinosaur’s colour is unknown, Evans said they believe it may have been brightly coloured due to its outer keratin layer. “Not only is the skeleton nearly completely intact, but large parts of the bony armor in the skin are still in its natural position”, Dr. David Evans, Temerty Chair and Curator of Vertebrate Palaeontology at the Royal Ontario Museum, and leader of the project, said in a press release.