It had been over 50 years since a new species of Tyrannosaur had been discovered in Canada, but in 2020, the Thanatotheristes degrootorum was formally unveiled. The discovery has already provided researchers with new insights into the evolution of the Tyrannosaur family. This year, the Royal Canadian Mint celebrates the new find with a commemorative coin featuring the “Reaper of Death,” which is the translation of the scientific name given to the prehistoric predator. Colonial Acres is excited to share this coin with collectors.
How Was the New Dinosaur Discovered?
The remains of the new tyrannosaur species were first discovered approximately ten years ago in southern Alberta by John De Groot and his wife, Sandra, on a family walk along the Bow River near the hamlet of Hays. A farmer by profession, John is also an enthusiast of paleontology. Amongst the fossil fragments he and his wife found was the preserved jawbone of the Tyrannosaur with the fossilized teeth clearly visible. The scientific name for the new specimen honours its discoverers in the species name, “degrootorum.”
How Is This Dinosaur Similar to Other Tyrannosaurs?
There are several different species of Tyrannosaurs, the most famous of which is probably the Tyrannosaurus rex. The newly discovered species shares several distinguishing characteristics with the T. rex and other Tyrannosaur species:
- Short arms
- Forward-facing eyes
- Large skull
- Deep snout
- Knife-like teeth
Tyrannosaurs are thought to have been the apex predators amongst dinosaurs. In other words, they would have been at the top of the food chain. As a result, Tyrannosaur fossil remains are rarer than the herbivorous dinosaurs upon which they fed.
What Makes This Dinosaur Species Unique?
Thanatotheristes degrootorum would have looked a lot like its cousin, the famous Tyrannosaurus rex. However, it may have been much smaller than the T. rex. The specimen recently unveiled is estimated to have been 26 feet long and eight feet tall, while the T. rex could grow to be 40 feet long and 13 feet high.
Scientists at the University of Calgary noted several characteristics of the Thanatotheristes’ skull that distinguish it from other Tyrannosaur species. They drew particular attention to prominent ridges of the upper jaw that run its entire length as being the most obvious.
Part of what makes the discovery of the Thanatotheristes so exciting is that it is considerably older than the T. rex. The newly unveiled species lived in the late Cretaceous Period, approximately 80 million years ago, or 12 million years before the T. rex arrived on the scene. Fossil records from this time period are scarce, so any new discovery has the potential to shed light on dinosaurs’ evolution.
The Thanatotheristes has been added to the world-renowned collection of dinosaur fossils at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Alberta.
What Are the Features of the New Coin?
The reverse side of the coin was designed by Julius Csotonyi, a paleoartist who was the first to illustrate the Thanatotheristes. Taking care to reproduce the fossil fragments as they were first discovered, he has recreated the skull in minute detail. The Royal Tyrrell Museum has verified the scientific accuracy of the fossil’s depiction on the back of the coin.
The rock-like texture engraved in the background represents the formation where the discovery took place. The 99.99% pure silver coin has been plated with rhodium. The plating adds an element of darkness to the design, making the fossilized skull its primary focus. The year of release and the face value of the coin, 20 dollars, are printed along the outside edge along with the full scientific name of the newly discovered dinosaur species.
Dinosaurs are an important part of the natural history of Canada and are popular with all ages. Colonial Acres is proud to offer this 2021 dino coin for sale. Add it to your wishlist today, and be the first to know when we uncover new specimens.