Australian Dinosaurs four-coin set explores the continents past, and it’s as varied as the present

More dinosaurs, this time from the Royal Australian Mint (RAM), who’ve launched a four-coin set in silver. A few years ago, the Perth Mint released five coins in their Australian Age of Dinosaurs series, featuring several beasts of old that were far less known than the usual roster we’ve come to expect, and this new set follows that example.

This time, we have four Cretaceous animals, all first discovered in the last 35 years, and representing a good mix of different genera. There’s a sauropod, a predatory theropod, a herbivorous theropod, and an ankylosaur. None of them are particularly impressive examples of their types, as it seems the general lethality and esoteric nature of modern Australia wasn’t so obvious 100 million years ago.

Each coin looks great, in our view, exhibiting good anatomy and pose, eschewing exaggerated views, and the colour of the earlier Perth Mint issues. We are especially fond of the Diamantinosaurus coin, that sensibly chose a close-up of this huge animal, rather than try to fit it all in. All are good, with our only real criticism being the placement of the 1 DOLLAR denomination, which in all four cases is really annoying. Why it couldn’t be placed on the obverse along with Queen Elizabethosaurus, is a mystery.

Sold as a set, each coin weighs 11.66 grams (about one-third of an ounce) and is struck in 0.999 silver to a proof finish. The presentation looks very good, and the $240.00 AUD set has a mintage of just 1,000 units, so it’s no surprise that the mint has limited it to one per customer. Base metal sets are available for as little as $12.00 AUD. Available now.

ELAPHROSAURINE

Ostensibly from Late Jurassic Africa and Asia, and Late Cretaceous Argentina, in 2015, a fossil of this ceratosaurian theropod dinosaur was discovered in Victoria, Australia. The first time this group had been found on the continent, and only the second worldwide from the Cretaceous period, the almost complete set of neck middle-vertebrae were an important discovery.

These are lightly built theropods, with a small head with a toothless beak, on a long neck, and were almost certainly herbivorous. At the time this animal existed, the region was quite cool, almost near-polar, but with a vibrant ecosystem, filled with small mammals, pterosaurs, and megaraptorid theropods, like Australovenator.

DIAMANTINOSAURUS

Living in Australia around 94 million years ago, Diamantinosaurus was a titanosaurian sauropod, and another that was only described relatively recently, in this case 2009. In this case, the discovered bones of the holotype consisted of the forelimb, shoulder girdle, pelvis, hindlimb and ribs. Relatively small for a Titanosaur, a group that contains some of the largest land animals of all time, it was still 15-16 metres in length, with a weight of 15-20 tons.

No skull has been found, not uncommon of titanosaurs, but it’s safe to say it was a herbivore, and the plant life in the region was filled with ferns, ginkgoes, gymnosperms, and angiosperms. It was also populated with Australovenator, which may well have preyed on young sauropods.

AUSTRALOVENATOR

With a name meaning ‘southern hunter’, Australovenator was a megaraptoran theropod dinosaur, discovered earlier this century, and described in 2009 from cranial remains. It’s the most complete predatory dinosaur discovered in Australia to date. The parts of the holotype as it was initially described, which are held
at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History, consists
of a left dentary, teeth, partial forelimbs and hindlimbs, a partial
right ilium, ribs, and gastralia. Bones were found intermingled with Diamantinosaurus, so we know they were contemporaries.

This wasn’t a huge predator, certainly not in the league of T. Rex, Spinosaurus, or Giganotosaurus, but it still reached 6 metres in length, with a weight around 500 kg. It was likely a fast hunter, although scavenging was always an option, and was quite capable of disembowelling prey with feet surprisingly similar in layout to those of the emu.

KUNBARRASAURUS

An Ankylosaurian dinosaur, complete with armoured skin, it was first uncovered in Australia in 1989, and fully named and described in 2015. Kunbarrasaurus ieversi was found in almost complete form, including the skull, which allowed for a much more accurate idea of the animal’s original form. Like the more famous ankylosaurs, Kunbarrasaurus had several different types of armour over its body, in the skin on its head, back, abdomen, legs and along the tail.

Around 2 metres in length, this is a relatively small member of the group, and we know for sure it was herbivorous. The holotype specimen had well-preserved gut contents, including fragments of fibrous or vascular plant tissue (the most common), fruiting bodies, spherical seeds, and vesicular tissue.

SPECIFICATION (PER COIN)
DENOMINATION $1 Australia
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 11.66 grams
DIMENSIONS 25.0 mm
FINISH Proof
MODIFICATIONS None
MINTAGE 1,000 sets
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes
ROYAL AUSTRALIAN MINT