A new chapter in the award-winning Natura series introduces palaeontology, in recognition of South Africa’s significance to this field and study of plant and animal fossils. In this first instalment of the palaeontology-themed coins, the focus is on "Rise of the Dinosaurs – Archosauria" over the five 24ct gold coins.
The Archosauria - crocodiles, pterosaurs, dinosaurs and birds - were magnificent beasts which ruled over the land and sky for 180 million years, from the Triassic to the Cretacecous periods. The Archosauriforms evolved at the end of the Triassic, finally taking over the last enclaves of synapsid domination.
Each coin in this set depicts a different Archosauriform, together with its scientific name, the word "Natura", the denomination, mass and metal value of the coin.
The Proterosuchidae, similar in form to the crocodile, is depicted on the R20 1/4 oz gold coin. Proterosuchus ranged between 1.5 m to 2.2 m in length, and resembled the crocodile with their long jaw, short legs, thick neck and a long flattened tail. The elongated snout of this creature resembles that of a modern gharial more than that of a crocodile or alligator, which would suggest that it was a specialised fish-eater. Its nostrils are on the side of the snout, supporting the hypothesis that they were terrestrial predators hunting in water.
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