Ancient Canada fossil coin series back for 2018 with a new pair of antique silver designs

Perennial AgAuNEWS favourite, the prehistoric creature coin, is back from one of the best producers in the genre; the Royal Canadian Mint. Last year the RCM launched a two-coin series of one-ounce silver coins called Ancient Canada that featured representations of fossils in the Royal Tyrell Museum, located in Alberta. That series (you can see the coins further down), depicted a vertebrate fossil on one and an invertebrate fossil on the other. A similar choice has been made for the 2018 pair.

Struck in the unbound style, by that we mean the edge of the coin isn’t restricted to a circular shape and the metal is allowed to squeeze out slightly under the pressure, to form an irregular edge, the coins format owes much to the Monnaie de Paris with its superb Clovis range. The antique finish suits these well and is something that the Parisian producer should try on the series that follows Women of France, perhaps.

The first coin out now depicts a theropod dinosaur called Gorgosaurus. An apex predator, Gorgosaurus lived around 75.1-76.6 mya and came in at two tonnes in weight. Closely related to Albertosaurus and Tyrannosaurus Rex, it’s the most commonly found of the Tyrannosaurids, no doubt due to its floodplain habitat that was more conducive to the quicker preservation of remains. The depiction is again, of a fossil in the Royal Tyrell Museum. The second coin, due out in March, is of the arthropod species, Marrella. This creature lived over 500 mya and is one of  the most commonly found fossils in the famous Burgess Shale. Anyone with an interest in palaeontology would do well to check out a book on the Burgess Shale and the quite incredible creatures that are found within it.

The obverse is Canada’s typical Susanna Blunt effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, also antique finished. The small latex ‘floating frame is back again. A superb way to display the coin in a fossil cabinet, for example, these are neat, compact and very well done. The coin is not encapsulated and doesn’t need to be as it lacquer-sealed. Antique finishing is quite resistant to toning anyway. The mintage is again limited to 5,500 pieces and is priced at $134.95 CAD. A serialised certificate of authenticity is enclosed. Excellent stuff, choosing subjects rarely seen on coins. Recommended for the dinocoin collector.



Imagine an era millions of years ago when our famously northern climate was largely subtropical. An interior sea filled with marine reptiles and molluscs divided our continent—and the Canadian landscape was dominated by dinosaurs of all sizes. This is Ancient Canada! The remains of the dinosaurs that once roamed our country are embedded in the rocks that bridge our era with theirs. With a prehistoric look and feel, this two-coin series recreates exciting fossil finds that speak of a world very different from our own.

With its serrated teeth and imposing stature, it’s easy to imagine the carnivorous Gorgosaurus living up to its “fierce lizard” name! This tyrannosaur’s articulated remains are faithfully reproduced on our newest addition to the Ancient Canada series of antiqued, splash-struck coins. Take a close look at the reverse, where the mix of engraving and finishes realistically capture the time-worn look and feel of fossils preserved in sandstone—just like those recovered from Alberta’s Dinosaur Provincial Park!

Your coin design is based on fossils curated at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Drumheller, Alberta, and has been reviewed for scientific accuracy by palaeontologists at the Museum. Reproduced on a smaller scale, the articulated skeleton of a juvenile Gorgosaurus libratus fills most of the reverse; it is depicted in a classic death pose, with legs folded beneath the torso and the neck bent back towards the tail, while the jaw is lined with a fearsome set of sharp teeth. The combination of precision engraving and special finishes result in an eye-catching contrast between the smooth, timeworn look of the polished fossils and the rock-like texture of their “sandstone” encasement. The rimless coin’s unusual contour is the result of an old coin-minting technique, which allows the fine silver to “spill” out and form an irregular shape reminiscent of an ancient Roman coin. The patina finish and a prehistoric-looking font further add to the coin’s antique appearance. The obverse features the effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by Susanna Blunt.


Gorgosaurus lived during the Late Cretaceous Period, between 77 and 75.5 million years ago. It is thought to have lived at the same time as the more robust Daspletosaurus—one of the few known instances of co-existing tyrannosaurids!

The name Gorgosaurus was inspired by Greek mythology—specifically the Gorgons, the sisters with venomous snakes for hair, who could turn anyone to stone if they looked at them.

Only one species Gorgosaurus species is known: G. libratus, whose name is the past participle of the Latin verb librare, “to balance.”

It likely preyed upon hadrosaurs, ceratopsids, even Ornithomimus—the ostrich-mimic dinosaur depicted on the first coin in our Ancient Canada series!

Recovered from Dinosaur Provincial Park in 1991, the skeleton depicted on the reverse is remarkably complete: more than 95% of its bones were still in place!

The remains of many dinosaurs, and even birds, have been found in a similar position as the Gorgosaurus on your coin; known as a “death pose”, the skeleton is positioned in a way where the jaw is open and the head and tail are curved back above the spine. Long a subject of scientific debate, the cause for this Gorgosaurus’s death pose is now believed to be the result of decomposition under water.



COMPOSITION 0.9999 silver
WEIGHT 31.39 grams
DIMENSIONS 38 mm approx
FINISH Antique
BOX / COA Yes / Yes