They say bad news comes in threes. That may be so, but good news can come in threes, too. Especially if you’re a dinosaur fan.
Last week, I was happy to announce the latest addition to the Canadian Museum of Nature’s fossil collection: the new horned dinosaur Spiclypeus shipporum. This week, I’m excited to be involved in yet another cool dino-related announcement: the release of Canada Post’s second Dinos of Canada stamp series.
Once again, I served as the scientific advisor for the stamps. This year, Canada Post and I decided to offer up a more diverse assortment of prehistoric animals, including not just dinosaurs, but also marine reptiles, mammals, and mammal-like reptiles from all parts of our country. Here are this year’s featured creatures.
Cypretherium coarctatum: Hailing from the Saskatchewan of 35 million years ago, Cypretherium coarctatum is a classic case of a face only a mother could love. This pig-like beast had two bony prongs under its chin that likely served some sort of display function. The different-shaped teeth were equally capable of cutting up meat or plants, meaning Cypretherium coarctatum probably wasn’t too fussy about what it ate.
Acrotholus audeti: The most recent find on this list, Acrotholus audeti was only discovered in 2008 in Alberta. It is the earliest example of a dome-headed dinosaur (pachycephalosaur), dating back 84 million years. The dome was over two inches thick, and may have allowed the animal to butt heads with its rivals.
Comox Valley elasmosaur: This animal is still awaiting a scientific name, perhaps because palaeontologists are reluctant to get too near its toothy maw to study it. Elasmosaurs “flew” beneath the ocean somewhat like a penguin, using their large, paddle-like flippers. The long neck stretched up to 7 metres in front of the body. This allowed the elasmosaur to surprise schools of fish from a distance, before the large body of the animal was in sight. The Comox Valley elasmosaur lived in what is now British Columbia, some 83 million years ago.
Dimetrodon borealis: Once mistaken as Canada’s first known dinosaur, this species is now known to be a mammal-like reptile, more closely related to living mammals than to dinosaurs. Why do we think this? One clue is in the teeth, which vary in shape along the animal’s jaw line. Such variation in tooth shape is typical of mammals, but not of dinosaurs. Dimetrodon borealis lived 270 million years ago, in what is now Prince Edward Island.
Troodon inequalis: A small, swift omnivore that lived in Alberta around 75 million years ago, Troodon inequalis had large eyes for its size. For this reason, it is often thought to have been most active at night. Evidence in support of this hypothesis is that Troodon is most abundant in Arctic locales, where low light regimes dominated for much of the year.
So there you have it: the line-up for the latest Dinos of Canada stamp series from Canada Post. Be sure to pick up a set at your nearest Canada Post outlet and join the ranks of « palaeophilately ».
Oberservant readers may have noticed that I mentioned three pieces of good news. So what’s the third? Well, the Ultimate Dinosaurs travelling exhibition is coming to the Canadian Museum of Nature starting June 11. If you haven’t had your fill of dinosaurs after Spiclypeus and the stamps, Ultimate Dinosaurs will be sure to hit the spot. Watch for more about this as the date approaches.