Evolution of Life silver coin series continues its journey through the fossil record with the early hominid, Paranthropus

A favourite range of mine, CIT’s superb ‘Evolution of Life’ series of one-ounce silver coins takes the fascinating world of prehistoric life and depicts it in fossil form. The latest issue is the seventh to date and the first to enter the mammalian world.

The style is a simple, but incredibly effective one. Employing the talents of Smartminting, especially its ability to imbue detail on high-relief, each issue shows us the fossil of a long extinct creature that’s been highlighted with rose gilding. A clever touch is showing the fossil still partly embedded in bedrock, contrasted nicely with an antique finish.

The decision to jump to an instantly recognisable hominid has given us a highly distinctive looking piece. We were a little disappointed that CIT’s clever dimensional ‘Skull’ series didn’t go the human ancestor route, so this is fine compensation. A terrific release that continues the sky-high standard of this series.

As is traditional at CIT, there’s a half-gram minigold in tandem that has a miniature version of the silver coins design. The high-relief isn’t there, of course, but there’s lashings of detail on this tiny coin. Few do them as well as this producer does. Check out both versions and all the previous releases in our Coin Series Profile.


Paranthropus is a genus of extinct hominin which contains two widely accepted species: P. robustus and P. boisei. However, the validity of Paranthropus is contested, and it is sometimes considered to be synonymous with Australopithecus. They lived between approximately 2.6 and 0.6 million years ago (mya) from the end of the Pliocene to the Middle Pleistocene.

Paranthropus is characterised by robust skulls, with a prominent gorilla-like sagittal crest along the midline–which suggest strong chewing muscles–and broad, herbivorous teeth used for grinding. However, they likely preferred soft food over tough and hard food. Paranthropus species were generalist feeders, but P. robustus was likely an omnivore, whereas P. boisei was likely herbivorous and mainly ate bulbotubers.

They were bipeds. Despite their robust heads, they had comparatively small bodies. Average weight and height are estimated to be 40 kg at 132 cm for P. robustus males, 50 kg at 137 cm for P. boisei males, 32 kg at 110 cm for P. robustus females, and 34 kg at 124 cm for P. boisei females.

They were possibly polygamous and patrilocal, but there are no modern analogues for australopithecine societies. They are associated with bone tools and contested as the earliest evidence of fire usage. They typically inhabited woodlands, and coexisted with some early human species, namely A. africanus, H. habilis, and H. erectus. They were preyed upon by the large carnivores of the time, specifically crocodiles, leopards, sabertoothed cats, and hyaenas. (Wikipedia)

DENOMINATION 500 Togrog (Mongolia) 1,000 Togrog (Mongolia)
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver 0.9999 gold
WEIGHT 31.1 grams 0.5 grams
DIMENSIONS 38.61 mm 11.0 mm
FINISH Antique Proof
MODIFICATIONS Rose gilding None
MINTAGE 999 15,000
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes Optional / Yes