Hong Kong Dinosaurs

I have never actively pursued dinosaurs on stamps as a collecting theme. But like all collectors who buy mixed lots, I have ended up with quite a few of them. A few years ago, I began creating flashcards using scanned images of some of my stamps and the dinosaurs have always been a hit with students. The announcement of a set of six stamps and a miniature sheet to be released by Hong Kong on November 15 caught my eye as a result.

Hong Kong Post’s website does not provide a reason behind this issue nor very many other details other than the following brief paragraph:

Hongkong Post will issue a set of stamps in six denominations, a stamp sheetlet and other philatelic products on the theme of “Dinosaurs”, featuring several species of dinosaurs from the Jurassic and Cretaceous eras such as Triceratops, Allosaurus, Tyrannosaurus, etc. to explore the mystery of these prehistoric species with members of the public.

HKP’s newsletter provides the dates for two rounds of advanced sales, one that ended on October 3 and the other on the 31st. A look at the advanced order page for the issue reveals that a number of items are already sold out.

The Commonwealth Stamps Opinion Blog gives a bit more information:

15 November 2022 – Dinosaurs – 6 stamps and 1 miniature sheet containing the 6 stamps. Designed by Carl Cheng Chi-Ming from illustrations by Tak yeo-Choi. “dinosaur images provided by Higher Visions GmbH, paleoartists Davide Bonadonna and Market Hallett”. Lithographed. Rating:- ***.

The presentation pack adds that the stamps were printed in France by Cartor Security Printers using lithography with 3D embossing on paper with security fibers. The stamps measure 50 mm x 30 mm and are perforated 13.5 x 13.25 elliptical perforation on each vertical.

A Google search to find out if there had been any dinosaur bones discovered in Hong Kong itself only turned up the exhibition of 8 large skeletons currently at the Science Museum and set to close in November. This video by South China Post gives a nice overview of the exhibition and its significance:

The stamps feature five of the eight dinosaurs represented at the exhibition (there is a stamp for Brachiosaurus who is not present at the museum and neither Hatzegopteryx nor the baby sauropod are represented in the issue). A few highlights of the exhibition are mentioned in an article by Lifestyle Asia:

  • The exhibition features Mister Big, a Spinosaurus that first proved to scientists that dinosaurs lived in water.
  • The Hesperosaurus, also known as Victoria, is a North American stegosaurus found with preserved skin — a very rare thing to find after 65 million years, give or take.
  • And Willard, the Triceratops, is one of the world’s largest collected fossils of his kind — he may even be an entirely new species.

As usual, Hong Kong Post has a large variety of items for this issue (several of the pre-sale offers are already sold out). In addition to the mint stamps (available in a set of six or full sheets of 20 for each design) and miniature sheet, there are pre-paid airmail postal cards and a large number of options for first day covers (pictorial cancellations in both black & white and color, postmarks from the Philatelic Bureau and GPO-1 as well as from 36 different post offices conveniently offered in several packs); details on all products are found on this page).

HK$2.20 Tyrannosaurus

Tyrannosaurus is a genus of large theropod dinosaur. The species Tyrannosaurus rex (rex meaning “king” in Latin), often called T. rex, is one of the best represented theropods. Tyrannosaurus lived throughout what is now western North America, on what was then an island continent known as Laramidia. Tyrannosaurus had a much wider range than other tyrannosaurids. Fossils are found in a variety of rock formations dating to the Maastrichtian age of the Upper Cretaceous period, 68 to 66 million years ago. It was the last known member of the tyrannosaurids and among the last non-avian dinosaurs to exist before the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event.

As the archetypal theropod, Tyrannosaurus has been one of the best-known dinosaurs since the early 20th century and has been featured in film, advertising, postage stamps, and many other media.

HK$2.80 Spinosaurus

Spinosaurus (‘spine lizard’) is a genus of spinosaurid dinosaur that lived in what now is North Africa during the Cenomanian to upper Turonian stages of the Late Cretaceous period, about 99 to 93.5 million years ago. The genus was known first from Egyptian remains discovered in 1912 and described by German palaeontologist Ernst Stromer in 1915. The original remains were destroyed in World War II, but additional material came to light in the early 21st century. It is unclear whether one or two species are represented in the fossils reported in the scientific literature. Evidence suggests that it was highly semiaquatic and lived both on land and in water much like modern crocodilians do.

HK$3.70 Triceratops

Triceratops (‘three-horned face’) is a genus of herbivorous chasmosaurine ceratopsid dinosaur that first appeared during the late Maastrichtian stage of the Late Cretaceous period, about 68 million years ago in what is now North America. It is one of the last-known non-avian dinosaur genera, and became extinct in the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event 66 million years ago. The name Triceratops is derived from the Greek words trí- (τρί-) meaning ‘three’, kéras (κέρας) meaning ‘horn’, and ṓps (ὤψ) meaning ‘face’.

Triceratops has been documented by numerous remains collected since the genus was first described in 1889 by American paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh. Specimens representing life stages from hatchling to adult have been found. As the archetypal ceratopsid, Triceratops is one of the most popular dinosaurs, and has been featured in film, postage stamps, and many other types of media.

HK$4 Diplodocus

Diplodocus is a genus of diplodocid sauropod dinosaurs, whose fossils were first discovered in 1877 by S. W. Williston. The generic name, coined by Othniel Charles Marsh in 1878, is a neo-Latin term derived from Greek διπλός (diplos) “double” and δοκός (dokos) “beam”, in reference to the double-beamed chevron bones located in the underside of the tail, which were then considered unique. The genus of dinosaurs lived in what is now mid-western North America, at the end of the Jurassic period. It is one of the more common dinosaur fossils found in the middle to upper Morrison Formation, between about 154 and 152 million years ago, during the late Kimmeridgian Age. Its great size may have been a deterrent to the predators Allosaurus and Ceratosaurus: their remains have been found in the same strata, which suggests that they coexisted with Diplodocus.

Diplodocus is among the most easily identifiable dinosaurs, with its typical sauropod shape, long neck and tail, and four sturdy legs. For many years, it was the longest dinosaur known.

HK$5.40 Brachiosaurus

Brachiosaurus is a genus of sauropod dinosaur that lived in North America during the Late Jurassic, about 154–150 million years ago. It was first described by American paleontologist Elmer S. Riggs in 1903 from fossils found in the Colorado River valley in western Colorado, United States. Riggs named the dinosaur Brachiosaurus altithorax; the generic name is Greek for “arm lizard”, in reference to its proportionately long arms, and the specific name means “deep chest”. Brachiosaurus is estimated to have been between 18 and 22 meters (59 and 72 ft) long; body mass estimates of the subadult holotype specimen range from 28.3 to 46.9 metric tons (31.2 and 51.7 short tons). It had a disproportionately long neck, small skull, and large overall size, all of which are typical for sauropods. Atypically, Brachiosaurus had longer forelimbs than hindlimbs, which resulted in a steeply inclined trunk, and a proportionally shorter tail.

It is regarded as a high browser, possibly cropping or nipping vegetation as high as 9 meters (30 ft) off the ground. Unlike other sauropods, it was unsuited for rearing on its hindlimbs. It has been used as an example of a dinosaur that was most likely ectothermic because of its large size and the corresponding need for sufficient forage, but more recent research suggests it was warm-blooded. Among the most iconic and initially thought to be one of the largest dinosaurs, Brachiosaurus has appeared in popular culture, notably in the 1993 film Jurassic Park.

HK$5.50 Allosaurus and Hesperosaurus

Allosaurus is a genus of large carnosaurian theropod dinosaur that lived 155 to 145 million years ago during the Late Jurassic epoch (Kimmeridgian to late Tithonian). The name means “different lizard” alluding to its unique (at the time of its discovery) concave vertebrae. The first fossil remains that could definitively be ascribed to this genus were described in 1877 by paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh. As the most abundant large predator in the Morrison Formation, Allosaurus was at the top of the food chain, probably preying on contemporaneous large herbivorous dinosaurs, and perhaps other predators. Potential prey included ornithopods, stegosaurids, and sauropods. Some paleontologists interpret Allosaurus as having had cooperative social behavior, and hunting in packs, while others believe individuals may have been aggressive toward each other, and that congregations of this genus are the result of lone individuals feeding on the same carcasses.

Hesperosaurus — meaning “western lizard”, from Classical Greek ἕσπερος (hesperos) “western” and σαυρος (sauros) “lizard”) — is an herbivorous stegosaurian dinosaur from the Kimmeridgian epoch of the Jurassic period, approximately 156 million years ago. Fossils of Hesperosaurus have since 1985 been found in the state of Wyoming and Montana in the United States of America. The type species Hesperosaurus mjosi was named in 2001. It is from an older part of the Morrison Formation, and so a little older than other Morrison stegosaurs. Several relatively complete skeletons of Hesperosaurus are known. One specimen preserves the first known impression of the horn sheath of a stegosaurian back plate.

Hesperosaurus was a member of the Stegosauridae, quadrupedal plant-eaters protected by vertical bony plates and spikes. It was closely related to Stegosaurus and was similar to it in having two rows of, possibly alternating, plates on its back and four spikes on its tail end. The plates on its back were perhaps not as tall but were longer. It possibly had a deeper skull than Stegosaurus.

Miniature Sheet of 6 Designs

Presentation Pack

First Day Covers (many different postmarks available; see this page)

Postage Pre-Paid Picture Cards (Air Mail) – set of 6, plus FD cancellations

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