Well, that’s another academic year wrapped up. It’s been a heck of a news week for armored dinos, so let’s kick off the summer with a Gratuitous Dinosaur Post.
Scientists just described a brand-new ankylosaur—those walking tanks from the Cretaceous Period—called Zuul crurivastator. The species name means “destroyer of shins,” which is appropriate for an animal bearing a massive, bony club at the end of its ten-foot tail. The genus name comes from the dog creature in the original Ghostbusters movie, and there’s indeed a resemblance. It’s not just a new dino, but one of the most complete ankylosaur specimens ever found.
And as they say on the commercials, “But wait! There’s more…”
National Geographic is running a piece on another incredible armored dino specimen. This one’s a nodosaur, a close relative of Zuul and its kin, but without the tail club. It, too, is stunningly complete, so much so that it looks less like a fossil and more like an animal that just fell asleep and turned to stone. The keratin sheaths on its spikes, the individual armored plates, scales, tendons—all beautifully preserved. What’s especially cool is that researchers might be able to use microscopic structures in the skin to reconstruct its coloration. It doesn’t have a name yet, but I’ve got a suggestion…