Congo’s ‘Prehistoric Life’ bullion coin series is back for a second 2020 outing with the giant marine reptile, Plesiosaurus

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s ‘Prehistoric Life’ bullion coin series is back with a second release for 2020. Following on from the release of Tyrannosaurus Rex back in July, the producer has headed away from land to the depths of our primordial seas with another big beastie sitting near the apex of the food chain – Plesiosaurus.

Now, as a bullion coin, these are obviously not going to be challenging the likes of CIT’s superb release depicting the same subject, but they come in at a literal fraction of the price and are aimed at a different market. We’re just pleased the subject has seen a little bit of a boost of late, along with the South African Mints superb series as well. However, the design is okay, but nothing more. It’s recognisable as a Plesiosaur, but lacks the refined anatomy and perspective we here at AgAuNEWS put so much emphasis on seeing.

The well realised timeline border returns, as does the common obverse with the DRC’s national emblem in the middle. It’s a standard one-ounce 0.999 silver bullion coin with a small 10,000 mintage, and there’s also a 0.5g minigold variant as well (2,000 mintage), that seems to do a decent job of maintaining detail on the 11 mm diameter surface (sans the border, sadly), although that remains to be seen in real life.

Available to order from dealers now, this is an APMEX exclusive in North America, but more widely accessible in other countries. We haven’t managed to get a hold of a sample of either this or the T-Rex to date, which is a shame, as we’d like to photograph to give a better impression of them. The official images, as you can see, are really not great – a common problem in the coin world.

PLESIOSAURUS

The first complete skeleton of Plesiosaurus was discovered by early paleontologist and fossil hunter Mary Anning in Sinemurian (Early Jurassic)-age rocks of the lower Lias Group in December 1823. Plesiosaurus was one of the first of the “antediluvian reptiles” to be discovered and excited great interest in Victorian England. It was so-named (“near lizard”) by William Conybeare and Henry De la Beche, to indicate that it was more like a normal reptile than Ichthyosaurus, which had been found in the same rock strata just a few years earlier. Plesiosaurus is the archetypical genus of Plesiosauria and the first to be described, hence lending its name to the order. The type species of Plesiosaurus, P. dolichodeirus, was named and described by Conybeare in 1824 on the basis of Anning’s original finds.

It is distinguishable by its small head, long and slender neck, broad turtle-like body, a short tail, and two pairs of large, elongated paddles. It lends its name to the order Plesiosauria, of which it is an early, but fairly typical member. It contains only one species, the type, Plesiosaurus dolichodeirus. Plesiosaurus was a moderately sized plesiosaur that grew to a length of about 3.5 metres.

Plesiosaurus fed mainly on clams and snails, and are thought to have eaten belemnites, fish and other prey as well. Its U-shaped jaw and sharp teeth would have been like a fish trap. It propelled itself by the paddles, the tail being too short to be of much use. Its neck could have been used as a rudder when navigating during a chase. Plesiosaurus gave live birth to live young in the water like sea snakes. The young might have lived in estuaries before moving out into the open ocean. It has been postulated that the long neck of Plesiosaurus would have been a hindrance when trying to speed up, any bend in the neck creating turbulences. If that is the case then Plesiosaurus would have had to keep its neck straight to achieve good acceleration, something that would make hunting difficult. For this reason it may be possible that these animals would actually lie in wait for prey to come close instead of trying to pursue them. (Source: Wikipedia)

SPECIFICATION
DENOMINATION 20 Francs CFA
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 31.1 grams
DIMENSIONS 38.61 mm
FINISH Brilliant uncirculated
MODIFICATIONS None
MINTAGE 10,000
BOX / C.O.A. No / No
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