A 75-million-year-old species of armored ankylosaurid dinosaur was named in May 2017. The new species, Zuul crurivastator, was discovered in the Judith River Formation of Montana, USA and described by paleontologists Victoria Arbour and David Evans.
Ankylosaurids were armored from stem to stern, fat-bellied quadrupeds typically covered in cobble-shaped bones embedded in the skin, as well as spikes. Ankylosaurids have broad smiles and horns behind the ears, a look that reminded the authors of Zuul, the demigod villain from Ghostbusters. At the end of the tail, ankylosaurids have a swollen bony club. This club is usually regarded as a weapon, and the species name, crurivastator, translates to “shin destroyer.”
Ankylosaurids were low browsing herbivores that mostly lived in North America and Asia during the Late Cretaceous. They lived in a variety of environments from lush temperate forests to oases. Tyrannosaurs and other large predatory dinosaurs preyed on these animals and they relied on their armor, rather than speed, to protect them. Detailed analysis of the tails show that they could have been swung with great force acting like a sledge hammer and offering further defense against predation.