An artist's drawing of Zuul crurivastator, in this interpretation a greenish dinosaur with a clubbed tail and almost comically monstrous facial featuers
© Royal Ontario Museum, Danielle Dufault

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Demon-faced dinosaur named after Ghostbusters baddie

In the 1984 blockbuster Ghostbusters, Zuul was the hellish gatekeeper set to unleash unspeakable monsters on New York City. In a wry nod to the comedy classic, researchers have named a new armored ankylosaur in the demon’s honor—largely, they say, because its well-preserved fossils reveal that the dino and the demon share a remarkable skull and facial resemblance (above). The tail end of the creature, which terminates in an 8-centimeter-thick, toilet lid–sized knob of bone, also figures into the new species’s name: Zuul crurivastator loosely translates as “Zuul, destroyer of shins.” The plant-eating ankylosaur, which lived about 75 million years ago in what is now northern Montana, probably used its club in self-defense, the researchers report in Royal Society Open Science. Zuul (the dinosaur, not the demon) was probably about 6 meters long and weighed about 2500 kilograms—about the same as today’s white rhino.