Scientists have identified a 75m-year old dinosaur that bears a striking resemblance to a monster from the film Ghostbusters.
The dinosaur is one of the most complete specimens ever found belonging to the armoured ankylosaur group, featuring a complete skull, a tail club and preserved soft tissues.
It has been named "Zuul" after a horned dog-like creature that emerges from a fridge and possesses the body of Sigourney Weaver's character in the 1984 Ghostbusters movie.
Like Zuul, the new species has a short, rounded snout, armoured face and prominent horns behind the eyes. The fossil also features a formidable three meter tail complete with a large bony club and sharp spikes. Scientists believe the animals may have used their tails to strike the legs of predators in defense, or to whack rival members of their own species in contests over territory or mates.
In a nod to its anatomy, the creature's full scientific name is Zuul crurivastator, which translates as "Zuul, destroyer of shins."
The fossil is remarkably well preserved with skin impressions visible on the tail and scales and horny sheaths of spikes still present.
"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," said David Evans, curator of vertebrate palaeontology at the Royal Ontario Museum and leader of the project.
Zuul would have been six meters (20 feet) long and weighed about 2,500kg (5,500 pounds) -- approximately the size of a white rhinoceros.
The skeleton was excavated from a quarry in Montana, where some of the first dinosaurs ever discovered in North America were collected. The species is described in the journal Royal Society Open Science.
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Image credit: Skull of Zuul crurivastator by Brian Boyle © Royal Ontario Museum.