An article published in the journal “Royal Society Open Science” describes the study of a dinosaur called Zuul crurivastator that lived about 75 million years ago in today’s Montana, USA. It’s an Anchilosaurus, a group of armored herbivores that appeared during the Jurassic period that lived until the end of the Cretaceous. The name Zuul is inspired by the monster of the movie “Ghostbusters” because the discoverers saw some similarities with it.
The Zuul crurivastator specimen was discovered in 2014 during an excavation that aimed to find tyrannosur skeletons in a large Montana quarry in the Judith River Formation. Thanks to a stroke of luck, the researchers came across the tail of what quickly appeared to be an anchilosaurus. It was purchased by the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto and examined by Victoria Arbor and David Evans, two scientists from the Museum’s paleobiology department.
The result of the examination was that it’s a new species, classified within the anchilosaurins subfamily. Victoria Arbor saw a similarity between this animal’s face and that of Zuul the Gatekeeper, a monster of the famous movie “Ghostbusters”, so much to propose it as the name of the genus this species belonged to.
The uncovered skeleton is almost complete and even some soft tissues and keratin remains with spikes and scales were preserved. In essence, after its death the specimen got partially mummified allowing the fossilization of parts which get hardly preserved in any way.
This specimen was about 6 meters (about 20′) long, half of which were in its tail for a weight that when it was alive was about 2,500 kg, comparable to a modern white rhino. Its study made it possible to verify the anatomical characteristics that make it different from other anchilosaurs, so much as to create a new genus for its classification.
The preservation of the Zuul crimivastator specimen makes it a perfect object for further study. In particular, the remains of various soft tissues and keratin will be examined to understand exactly what chemicals have been preserved. Something of their original composition may have been preserved and each compound is valuable to better understand these ancient animals.