The dinosaur eras of Earth were filled with numerous types of creatures. While scientists agree that many dinosaurs were likely feathered just like birds of today, there were also armored dinosaurs known as anklylosaurids, which were armored creatures similar to the one in the illustration below.
Image Credit: Danielle Dufault/Royal Ontario Museum
Royal Ontario Museum paleontologists have officially declared a new species of armored dinosaur after studying skeleton fossils obtained just last year. Its official name is Zuul crurivastator, inspired by close physical resemblances to the character Zuul from the 1984 Ghostbusters movie. The findings appear in the journal Royal Society Open Science.
Unlike most fossils, the museum notes how this particular skeleton, which came from Montana, is one of the most complete and well-preserved specimens they’ve ever had the opportunity to study. The skull was fully intact, parts of the tail club were pristine, and even traces of soft tissue were present.
Image Credit: Royal Ontario Museum/YouTube
Among some of the features that were easily observable were the keratin sheaths on the armored plates and the skin impressions on the tail. Notably, keratin also makes up hair and fingernails, so it’s essentially the same kind of material.
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“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,” says Dr. Victoria Arbour of the University of Torronto.
“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.”
It’s not every day that scientists get the opportunity to study such a well-preserved specimen, so Zuul will likely continue to help with future dinosaur history research, assisting in developing more accurate models of the creatures that once walked the Earth millions of years ago.
In the meantime, paleotologists are searching Earth for more fossils with the hope that perhaps we'll find more like Zuul, or even better, additional new dinosaur species that will help write the hazy history book of Earth before mankind.
Source: Royal Ontario Museum