By: Joel Cohen (APS Writers Unit #30)
There is a new dinosaur on the prowl at the Smithsonian Institution. The United States Postal Service is marking his arrival with a new commemorative series.
In honor of the arrival of the long-awaited Tyrannosaurus rex (meaning king of the tyrant lizards, in Latin), the USPS will issue a quartet of forever stamps, each one different from the other, bringing this giant to life. They can be purchased in a pane of 16 stamps, beginning August 29, 2019.
The T. rex was the largest carnivore of its time, reigning from 85 to 65 million years ago. The stamps begin with a juvenile rex just hatching out of its egg, appearing with downy feathers and an insect flying above it, perhaps soon to become the infant’s first meal.
Next, we see the T. rex coming straight at us, through a clearing in the dense undergrowth of the forested planet. The third stamp shows the T. rex as a bare-skinned juvenile, chasing down a primitive mammal. Finally, we come to the fourth stamp, illustrating the young adult T. rex with a young Triceratops, but this time both dinosaurs are depicted in fossil form, as one would see them today in the current exhibit.
The artwork on the stamps is masterful, embodying the dynamic, active and forceful architecture of a T. rex, with lifelike scenes of its time on earth during the Cretaceous period, when the earth was covered in a wealth of plants, supporting the voracious appetites of the plant eaters.
The Art Director for the foursome is Greg Breeding, producing the stamps with original artwork by Julius T. Csotonyi, a scientist and paleo-artist.
The T. rex, Allosaurus, and Triceratops are just three of the animals featured among over 720 specimens in the newly opened exhibit of the David H. Koch Hall of Fossils – Deep Time at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. The newly installed Tyrannosaurus rex is the most recent of the dinosaurs to arrive, being the first of its kind to be excavated with a fully intact arm. It was found in 1988 by a Montana rancher, and is now on loan to the Smithsonian.
The dinosaurs’ new home takes up 31,000 square feet and reopened on June 8th, 2019 after a five year renovation period. But more than just renovate, the new exhibit also casts the dinosaurs, plants, and other animals shown in the context of deep time, meaning going backwards some 4 billion years, and moving up to the present.
This is the singular “touch” that makes the exhibit so timely and relevant to our world of today.
Joel I. Cohen earned his doctorate majoring in genetics and evolution from the University of Massachusetts. He recently rediscovered philatelics and joined APS, specializing in topical issues of baseball and nature conservation, and individuals including Rachel Carson, Jackie Robinson, Charles Darwin and Nikolai Vavilov. For his second career, he teaches biology for Maryland public schools. His research interests and publications can be found on Research Gate.
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