Discover a Commemorative Coin Featuring a Canadian Dinosaur Species
The continued popularity of the “Jurassic Park” film franchise is just one indication of the enduring fascination that dinosaurs hold for human beings. Part of the fascination is that, with all that humans have learned about dinosaurs over the past 200 years or so, there are still new species to discover and new things that fossils can teach us. Mercuriceratops is a dinosaur species first discovered within the last 15 years. As part of its Discovering Dinosaurs series, the Royal Canadian Mint has released a new $20 silver coin featuring the skull of the Mercuriceratops.
When and How Was the Mercuriceratops Discovered?
The first Mercuriceratops fossils were discovered by paleontologists in 2011. Because the skull was similar in appearance to the Triceratops, it was originally believed to be another species of that kind of dinosaur. However, comparisons between the new skull and that of the Triceratops confirmed that the former was related to the Triceratops but a separate kind of dinosaur.
It wasn’t until 2014 that the Mercuriceratops was formally revealed. This only occurred after two different but nearly identical skulls were found in separate areas and found to be the same species. One of these skulls was discovered in Alberta’s Dinosaur Provincial Park, while the other was found in the Judith River Formation in the U.S. state of Montana.
What Does Mercuriceratops’ Name Mean?
The dinosaur’s scientific name is Mercuriceratops Gemini. “Gemini” means “twins” in Latin and refers to the two skulls needed to determine that the Mercuriceratops were a new species.
“Mercuriceratops” literally means “Mercury’s horned face,” which is also the name of the Canadian coins that bear a likeness of the skull. In Roman mythology, Mercury is the messenger of the gods who wore a helmet featuring a pair of wings. At the back of the Mercuriceratops’ skull is a frill that resembles a pair of wings. These were likened to the wings on Mercury’s helmet.
What Was Mercuriceratops Like?
Mercuriceratops lived 72 to 66 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous period. It was approximately six metres, or 18 feet, long and weighed approximately 500 kilos or 1,100 pounds. Like other ceratopids, including its relative the Triceratops, Mercuriceratops was an herbivore that fed on plants rather than other animals. It is not clear what purpose its formidable neck frill would have served, but it may have helped it attract a mate.
The Mercuriceratops was a relative of the Triceratops and looked similar to it in some respects. It had two horns along its neck and a prominent horn on its nose.
What Is Special About the Design of the Coin?
The reverse of the coin features an engraving of the Mercuriceratops’ skull, featuring the neck frill and the bony protrusions on its face. The drawing was created by Julius Csotonyi, a paleoartist, and has been verified as scientifically accurate. In addition to the word “Canada,” the date of mintage, and the face value, the reverse also features the scientific name of the dinosaur. The background is engraved to resemble the rock bed in which the skull was first discovered, and it is plated in black rhodium to represent the past that is hidden or unknown. As the Mercuriceratops emerges out of the unknown past, it stands out against the black rhodium plating. The plating continues on the obverse of the coin behind Her Majesty’s portrait, making it stand out against the dark background as well.
People of all ages are excited about dinosaurs, and any dinosaur enthusiast would be happy to add this coin to his or her collection. The previous coin in the series, the Reaper of Death from 2021, sold out completely. The current coin has a limited mintage of 10,000. You can find this coin plus many more coins released over the years from the Royal Canadian Mint at Colonial Acres Coins.