Ghostbusters Gets Its Own Dinosaur
Zuul is the fantasy demon in the Ghostbusters film, played by Ivan Reitman, and his furious and overbearing nature has been the influence towards the naming of a new dinosaur skeleton from the Cretaceous period. This armoured tank like reptile, known for its thick plates and heavily weighted tail-bulb from the ankylosaurid family, has been named zuul crurivastator. Its latter name can be translated into “crusher of shins” which is what it is most likely to have done in defence of itself and its young.
The splendid element of this fossilised thunder-lizard is that is has been scientifically verified to contain mummified tissues like skin. Perhaps a first for palaeontologists who are those charged with joining the dots made by far flung clues which scatter geological time. It's possible to date rocks and fossils using a variety of methods, carbon dating and geological layers represent the most efficient. By looking at the biology and structure of this creature in the best resolution ever seen we stand able to gain terrific insights into the nature and development of these creatures and their avian descendants.
The Judith River Formation in Montana is a period of time in the area now known as Montana that spanned around 4 Million years in the Cretaceous era of Earth's history, a larger period spanning from approx 145 Million BC until approx 66 Million BC. This is where the new dinosaur fossil is classified, and it represents a later period in the history of dinosaur evolution. Protective armour plated skin complete with spikes and a heavy club for a tail suggests millions of years of self-preservation in evolutionary action.
Such unprecedented preservation of soft tissues gives us an insightful eye towards the ultimate evolution of modern skin, not only in lizards and birds but in mammals too. Identifying similarities between us and dinosaur soft tissue formation can help us plot the network of genetic phenotype which link back to common ancestral heritage. This unique opportunity to study so far unseen biology belonging to long extinct creatures has been taken up by the Royal Society of Open Science who recently published a paper on their findings.
See how the hammer headed tail could smash its way through the shins of anything that came too close in this video from the Royal Ontario Museum.
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