Uncovering the Past

September 13, 2017
The nodosaur fossil shown here is the oldest ever found in Alberta, Canada.
COURTESY OF ROYAL TYRRELL MUSEUM, DRUMHELLER, AB

Dinosaurs are long gone. But scientists keep finding new types of the creatures. Two recent discoveries are helping experts better understand North America’s distant past.

In May, a 110-million-year-old fossil went on display at the Royal Tyrrell Museum, in Alberta, Canada. It is the fossil of an armored herbivore. Miners in Alberta found it in 2011.

The creature belongs to a new species in the nodosaur family. In August, it was given a name: Borealopelta markmitchelli.

Zuul, shown here, had a tail like a sledgehammer, which it may have used as a weapon.

ANDREW FRANCIS WALLACE—TORONTO STAR/GETTY IMAGES

“It’s the best-preserved armored dinosaur in the world,” Donald Henderson says. He is the museum’s dinosaur curator.

The nodosaur was about 18 feet long and weighed nearly 3,000 pounds. It had bony, bumpy plates of armor.

“We’ve got all the armor,” Henderson told TFK. “Even better, we’ve got the scales.”

A Movie Monster

Also in May, experts from the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), in Toronto, Canada, published a report about a new ankylosaur species. Its fossilized skeleton was found in Montana. The creature lived around 75 million years ago. It was about 20 feet long and weighed nearly 5,500 pounds.

Scientists call that dinosaur Zuul crurivastator. It was named after Zuul, a monster in the 1984 movie Ghostbusters. Both creatures have a short, rounded snout and horns above the eyes.

In a statement, the ROM said that Zuul is “one of the most complete and best-preserved ankylosaurs ever discovered.”