Scientists discovered a new 'shin-destroying' armoured dinosaur -- and named it after Zuul from 'Ghostbusters'

Zuul portraitDanielle Dufault/Royal Ontario MuseumZuul crurivastator, or ‘Zuul, destroyer of shins.’

When researchers at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) pieced together the fossilized 75-million-year-old bones of the ankylosaurid specimen they acquired last year, they noticed something strange.

The remarkably well-preserved armoured dinosaur — which was a new species — bore an uncanny resemblance to an already existing fictional character: Zuul, from the 1984 film “Ghostbusters.”

The dinosaur and fictional demon both have a “short, rounded snout and prominent horns behind the eyes,” according to a statement from the museum.

Here’s Zuul the dinosaur:

And here is Zuul, Gatekeeper of Gozer:

The newly identified ankylosaurid’s full name is Zuul crurivastator, with the species name translating to “destroyer of shins.” The dinosaur belongs to a group of armoured creatures that had massive, weapon-like clubs for tails. These tails were about 10 feet long and covered in spikes (so able to destroy the shins of any predators willing to take them on).

The Ontario researchers describe the creature in a new study published in the journal Royal Society of Open Science.

All in all, it was about 20 feet long, on par with a white rhinoceros.

The armoured herbivore’s bones came from the Judith River Formation of Montana.

“The preservation of the fossil is truly remarkable. Not only is the skeleton almost completely intact, but large parts of the bony armour 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.

Those well-preserved bones helped confirm that this is indeed a new species.

“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,” said Dr. Victoria Arbour, the lead author of the study. “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 been a good week for dinosaur discoveries. On May 9, researchers published a study identifying for the first time a creature that was discovered 20 years ago. It made the cover of National Geographic magazine at that time, but its species didn’t get determined until now. That dinosaur, called an oviraptor, resembled an ostrich and was about 25 feet long. It has been officially dubbed Beibeilong sinensis, or “baby dragon from China.”

The “baby dragon” fossils are 90 million years old, so the two newly named dinos were not contemporaries and lived in different locations. But if they had ever come into contact, it’s safe to say that Zuul‘s armour and tail could have helped protect it from the giant birdlike predator.

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