Master's Research Project

Zuul crurivastator: Ecology, taphonomy, and preservation of an anklylosaur fossil from the Late Cretaceous of Montana

Research Committee: Dave Mazierski (University of Toronto)  & Dr. David Evans (Royal Ontario Museum)

Audience: General public, natural history museum visitors

Project Background: In 2014, a new ankylosaur genus from the Late Cretaceous was discovered in the Judith River Formation, Montana. The new genus was described from a singular well-preserved fossil, the type species Zuul crurivastator.  The preservation and fossilization of this individual included a series of events specific to this individual specimen. For example, Zuul’s carcass was deposited and overturned in a river channel following the “bloat and float” model proposed by Dr. Jordan Mallon.  The carcass sank and disarticulated in a unique way, and at least four sedimentary burying cycle events occurred to cover the carcass in its distinct position as discovered.

Project Summary: A 5-6 minute educational animation will be created to inform the general public about Zuul crurivastator's death and events leading to its unusually excellent preservation and fossilization. The animation will include both 2D and 3D elements and will be created using Pixalogic Zbrush, Autodesk Maya, Adobe After Effects and Photoshop.




Arbour, V. M., & Evans, D. C. (2017). A new ankylosaurine dinosaur from the Judith River Formation of Montana, USA, based on an exceptional skeleton with soft tissue preservation. Royal Society Open Science, 4(5), 161086.

Mallon, J. C., Henderson, D. M., McDonough, C. M., & Loughry, W. J. (2018). A “bloat-and-float” taphonomic model best explains the upside-down preservation of ankylosaurs. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 497 (February), 117–127.

Evans, D. (2018, April 27). Personal interview.

Work Process

Research & Story Development

Project Proposal & Literature Review 


Screen Shot 2019-04-13 at 11.02.02


Asset Building

Asset Template Illustrations

3D Model Sculpting and Painting in Zbrush

3D Scan Data Clean Up in Zbrush

3D Modelling in Maya

Effects & Dynamics

River Water Simulation

Moving Sand Simulation

Nature Foliage Creation

Creature Rigging

Rachael Whitehead 2020 ©