October 12, 2017 – Mary Anning was only 12 years old when she discovered the first complete Ichthyosaur skeleton in the English county Dorset in 1811. The experience left a lasting impression on her – it was the beginning of a lifelong passion for fossils and palaeontology. The “fish lizard”, so the literal translation of the Greek word, had been unheard of prior to her discovery. Due to the animal’s resemblance to the dolphin, it was soon correctly identified as a marine reptile, which had developed from its saurian precursors during the Triassic, around 250 million years ago.
Ichthyosaur fossil, on display in the Natural History Museum, London. Photo: Ghedoghedo / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0.
Up until some 90 million years ago the Ichthyosaur populated the oceans of the Mesozoic, feeding on fish, sea turtles, and ammonites. For Mongolia, CIT dedicates the “Ichthyosaur” coin in its “Evolution of Life” series to this fascinating animal.
Mongolia / 500 Togrog / Silver .999 / 1 oz / 38.61 mm / Mintage: 999.
The obverse shows the coat of arms of the issuing nation as well as its name, weight, and fine content. The reverse features a high-relief Ichthyosaur, based on a real fossil, on a silver coin with rose gold finish. In addition to the year of issue, the inscriptions EVOLUTION OF LIFE, ICHTHYOSAURIA, and TRIASSIC PERIOD are engraved on the silver edition, EVOLUTION and ICHTHYOSAURIA on the gold edition.
Following “Ammonite 2015” and “Trilobite 2016”, “Ichthyosaur” is the series’ third issue. What makes all three coins so special is how true-to-life they look. Are you really looking at the surface of a coin? Or at a real fossil against a slate-grey background? State-of-the-art smartminting© technology makes this a perfect optical illusion. It turns the silver coin field into a perfect imitation of rock. Set against this is the rose gold relief of the fossil.
The perfection of this coin made it a favourite with this year’s visitors of the annual World’s Fair for Money.
The coins were minted by B. H. Mayer’s Kunstprägeanstalt GmbH. Collectors can purchase the issues through specialty dealers.
Please find more information on these coins here.
The English translation of the poem “Der Ichthyosaurus” by Joseph Victor von Scheffel can be read here.
Recent research findings on the extinction of ichthyosaurs form the basis of this article in Sci-News.