When there's something strange in the neighborhood, who ya gonna call? Paleontologists of course.
Unveiled in a new study in the Royal Society of Open Science, a new species of ankylosaurus was discovered, resembling Zuul, the character from "Ghostbusters."
Its official name Zuul crurivastator, the genus name of the new ankylosaurus is a hat tip to the movie. "The generic name refers to Zuul the Gatekeeper of Gozer, a fictional monster from the 1984 film Ghostbusters, and the species epithet combines crus (Latin) for shin or shank, and vastator (Latin) for destroyer, in reference to the sledgehammer-like tail club," the paper reads.
Released in 1984, "Ghostbusters," which starred Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Ernie Hudson and the late Harold Ramis, went on to become one of the highest grossing comedies of all time. It had box office receipts of $295 million, according to Box Office Mojo and spawned a franchise including sequels, video games, toys and television shows.
The 75-million-year old dino has a rounded snout, elongated horns and surprised paleontologists by being one of the most complete skeletons found in Montana's Judith River Formation.
The dinosaur, which was discovered last year, is "the most complete ankylosaurid ever found in North America," according to the study.
Like its ankylosaurus brethren, the new species had a club at the end of its 10-foot tail to ward off predators, likely attacking their legs (its name, Zuul crurivastator, means "destroyer of shins"). It likely weighed around 5,500 pounds and had several, large spikes on its body.
"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," Dr. Victoria Arbour, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada said in a press release.
The dinosaur was approximately 20-feet long, the size of a modern day White Rhinoceros.
"The presence of abundant soft tissue preservation across the skeleton, including in situ osteoderms, skin impressions and dark films that probably represent preserved keratin, make this exceptional skeleton an important reference for understanding the evolution of dermal and epidermal structures in this clade," the study found.
Dr. David Evans, the leader of the project, said the preservation of the fossil was "remarkable," noting that that the soft tissue and the horny sheaths of the spikes are likely to be a focus of future research.