Linguamyrmex vladi, an ant from the Late Cretaceous of Myanmar (~99 mya). Part of an extinct group known as the Haidomyrmecini, or “hell ants”, it measured about 5mm long (0.2″) and is known from several individuals in amber.
It had huge scythe-shaped mandibles and a horn-like appendage on its head which together formed a powerful trap-jaw mechanism, snapping vertically shut when a pair of long sensitive trigger hairs touched against a target. One specimen was preserved close to a large soft-bodied beetle larva, which may have been an intended prey item.
When closed, the mandibles formed a tube-like channel to Linguamyrmex’s mouth, allowing it to suck out the “blood” from its impaled victims – and inspiring its species name, referencing Vlad Dracula.
The horn was also reinforced with metal particles in the chitinous exoskeleton, strengthening it against the impact of its closing jaws.
Gamerabaena sonsalla, a baenid freshwater turtle that lived at the very end of the Cretaceous (~66 mya) in North Dakota, USA. Known only from a single skull, its full size is uncertain, but it may have reached lengths of around 50cm (1′7″).
Its genus name was inspired by Gamera, a fictional giant turtle from a series of Japanese kaiju movies.
Baenids first appeared in the mid-Cretaceous (~112 mya) – although their ancestry may go as far back as the Late Jurassic (~150 mya) – and were part of an early lineage of the cryptodiran turtles, the grouping which includes most freshwater turtles and terrapins, all terrestrial tortoises, and all sea turtles. However, unlike many of the their modern cousins, they weren’t capable of fully retracting their heads inside their shells.
They survived well through the K-Pg mass extinction, with several species found on both sides of the boundary, but eventually went extinct in the mid-Eocene (~42 mya).
Ikrandraco avatar, a pterosaur from the Early Cretaceous of China (~120 mya). Although it was close relative of the well-known Pteranodon it was much smaller, with an estimated wingspan of around 1.5m (4′11) – similar in size to a large seagull.
Its name was based on the fictional ikran creatures from the 2009 movie Avatar, in reference to similarity of the the large crests on their lower jaws.
A hook-shaped projection at the back of the crest may have been an attachment point for a pelican-like throat pouch. The paleontologists who described Ikrandraco also suggested that its crest could have been used for skim-feeding, although this is a highly controversial idea among pterosaur specialists.
Zuul crurivastator, an ankylosaur from the Late Cretaceous of Montana, USA (~75 mya).
One of the most complete ankylosaurids ever found in North America, it’s known from a full skeleton about 6m long (20′). Much of its bony osteoderm armor is preserved in life position, along with skin impressions and the remains of keratinous scales and spike sheaths – although so far only the skull and tail have actually been fully prepared and described.
(The fuzz on this reconstruction is highly speculative, but since it’ll likely end up inaccurate anyway once of the rest of the body is fully described… why not have some fun with it?)
Its genus name was inspired by its skull’s resemblance to Zuul the Gatekeeper from the 1984 movie Ghostbusters, while its species name translates to “destroyer of shins” in reference to its especially large tail club.
Eucritta melanolimnetes, an amphibian-like creature from the Early Carboniferous of Scotland (~335 mya). About 25cm long (10″), it had a mixture of anatomical characteristics similar to baphetid stem-tetrapods, temnospondyls, and reptile-like amphibians, making its exact classification difficult. It’s currently considered to be a close relative of both the baphetids and Crassigyrinus, and it was probably close in appearance to what the common ancestor of all later tetrapods would have looked like.
Its name means “true creature from the black lagoon”, in homage to the 1954 monster movie.