While it’s not uncommon for scientists to draw from pop culture when naming new discoveries, those names are more often homage than description. However, a new species of armored dinosaur, which was discovered by the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), bears more than a passing resemblance to Zuul, the Gatekeeper of Gozer, from 1984’s Ghostbusters. As a result of their similar looks, the new species will be named “Zuul crurivastator.”
“Me and my co-author David Evans were batting around ideas for what to name it, and I just half-jokingly said, ‘It looks like Zuul from Ghostbusters,'” Victoria Arbour, a paleontologist and postdoctoral fellow at the ROM and the University of Toronto, said in an interview with the CBC. “Once we put that out there we couldn’t not name it that.”
Like Vinz Clortho, the Keymaster of Gozer, Zuul is a demonic hellhound known as a terror dog. In Ghostbusters, Zuul possesses Sigourney Weaver’s Dana Barrett in his quest to bring back Gozer the Destructor.
The name “Zuul crurivastator” translates to “destroyer of shins,” referencing the species’ prominent tail, which it would use to strike at the legs of other creatures in combat. Further describing the new species, the ROM noted in their press release, “Like Zuul, the new species has a short, rounded snout and prominent horns behind the eyes.”
The 75-million-year-old species is remarkably well-preserved, and the ROM has high hopes for the discovery and the information it might yield. “In the same quarry around the skeleton there were lots of other animals and plants that lived in the same environment as well. We’ll be able to reconstruct the whole ecosystem,” Arbour said. “This is just the beginning, but we’re obviously very excited about it.”
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