Visiting Zuul

Posted: July 12, 2017 - 09:37 , by royal
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Photo of two people looking at a big block containing rock and a dinosaur fossil

By Victoria Arbour

Team Zuul had a chance to go check out progress on the belly block at Research Casting International a few weeks ago!

The block weighs about 15 000 kilograms right now (about 30 000 lbs), and is absolutely huge – one of the biggest blocks of dinosaur that any of us have ever seen!

Photo of a backbone fossil embedded in the belly block

ROM fossil preparator Ian Morrison helped us strategize some plans for preparing this giant block. Here you can see some of the backbone and ribs peeking out of the rock. The jacket is so tall that it’s actually a bit difficult to see what’s exposed without climbing up on top of it.

Photo of a man squatting on top of the block

So that’s exactly what we did! Enough of the rock matrix remains in some places that we can safely perch in certain places up above the block. Here our curator of vertebrate palaeontology, David Evans, carefully surveys the exposed fossils.

Photo of two people inspecting the block

To the left of David, and in front of Victoria, you can see a string of vertebrae (the backbone) and some ribs. Towards the bottom of the photograph, parts of the hips and sacrum are exposed. Ankylosaurs have very wide hips – the widest part is located just above where the cardboard box is sitting in this photo, so the total width of the hips is almost as wide as the jacket itself, with just a bit of rock buffer in between the hips and the jacket. We were also able to spot little pieces of bony spikes and armour just behind where David is sitting, which makes us hopeful that more of the skin will be preserved underneath what we can see right now. Zuul is facing belly-up at the moment, so we won’t know for sure what the skin and armour on the back looks like for a little while.

Team Zuul is off to the field in a few weeks and will be visiting Zuul’s quarry – stay tuned for more updates about this exciting ankylosaur!