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Scientists from the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) have identified and named a new species of anklylosaurid or armoured dinosaur, Zuul crurivastator.

New dinosaur named after 'Ghostbusters' villain

Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Wednesday, May 10, 2017, 4:30 PM - Used to be, if you wanted to encounter the monster Zuul, you'd need to look beside an interdimensional portal atop a Manhattan skyscraper. 

Now, as of this month, you'll find it at the Royal Ontario Museum. Or, rather, its spikey-headed namesake, Zuul crurivastator, a newly identified dinosaur described in the research journal Royal Society Open Science.

Those spokes on the fossil skull's head are what set the species apart from most others of the ankylosaur family, a collection of armoured dinosaurs marked by large bony clubs at the end of their tails, which would have been used either as a defense against predators on in combat with each other.

"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, a post-doctoral fellow at the ROM and the University of Toronto, said in a news release. "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."

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Zuul would have roamed the wilds of western North America around 75 million years ago. A herbivore, the average specimen would have been around 6 metres long and weighed about 2.5 metric tonnes.

The ROM says this particular specimen was found around 25 km away from the Alberta border in Montana, and is one of the most complete ankylosaur skeletons ever discovered. 

It wouldn't be too much of a stretch to imagine Zuul ranging across what is now western Canada in its heyday, and several ankylosaurid specimens have been found in Canada. 

Canada has been such a trove of fossils over the last century and a half that Alberta's Dinosaur Provincial Park is a World Heritage Site.

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