Michel: 3102-3107, Bl. 79 / 3108-3111 ;
Scott: 2975-2980, 2980c / 2981-2984 ;
Stanley Gibbons: 3080-3085, MS3086 / 3087-3090 ;
Yvert: 2980-2985, BF109 / 2985A-D ;
Stamp and cover illustration: Peter Trusler.
Scientific consultant: Professor Patricia Vickers-Rich,
Chair of Paleontology, Monash University.
Stamp and cover design: Adam Crapp, Australia Post Design Studio.
|Stamps in set
55c - Genyornis newtoni (Thunder bird)
55c - Diprotodon optatum (Giant Wombat)
55c - Thylacoleo carnifex (Marsupial Lion)
55c - Thylacinus cynocephalus (Tasmanian Tiger)
$1.10 - Procoptodon goliah (Short-faced Giant Kangaroo)
$1.10 - Megalania prisca (Giant Varanid)
||Monash University, Victoria 3800
|Size (width x height)
stamps: 55c - 26mm x 37.5mm, $1.10 - 52mm x 37.5mm
Mini-Sheet: 160mm x 90mm
55c - sheet of 50,
$1.10 -sheet of 20.
Gutter-pairs stripes x2.
Self-adhesive stamps: booklet of 10, box of 100.
Gutter Pairs strip of 55c stamps x1,
Presentation Pack x1,
Maxi Card set of 6,
Medallion cover x1,
Booklet with panels of 10
55c self-adhesive stamps (5x2) x1,
Box of 100 self-adhesive stamps x1 (produced by two companies),
||Tullis Russell, Phosphorized
mint: 14.6 x 13.86,
self-adhesive: die-cut 11.50x11.25
||"Energi Print P/L" (mint and self-adhesive)
and "Pemara" (self-adhesive).
On October 1st
, 2008, Australian Post issued the set of 6 stamps "Megafauna".
These stamps show 6 prehistoric mammals from Australian continent and were issued in several formats:
- Two Sheets:
all four 55c stamps were printed together -
5 stamps in the row,
where the Genyornis stamp was printed twice at the beginning and the end of each row.
Both stamps with the face value of $1.10 were printed together -
5 stamps in the row
- 3 stamps of Megalania + 2 stamps of Procoptodon.
Some Sheets were printed with Gutter-pair rows.
The skeletons of the animals shown on the tabs between stamps of 55c.
The Sheet with tabs between stamps of $1.10 shows the "traffic light".
This Sheet contains only 4 stamps in a row.
Mini-Sheet of all 6 stamps
All four stamps with the face value of 55c were issued as
self-adhesive in a booklet of 10 of and boxes with roles of 100 stamps.
The boxes were produced by two different companies: "Energi Print P/L" and "Pemara".
The coils from these boxes can be differentiated by
distance of between stamps and the company name on the reverse side.
This issue focused on Australians megafauna - an extraordinary range of giant creatures that
roamed the Australian continent many thousands and even millions of
years ago and became extinct between 20,000 and 50,000 years ago (with
the exception of the Tasmanian Tiger).
Many of these animals, including the marsupial lion and the large kangaroo, briefly co-existed with
humans - a fact, some scientists hypothesise, that may have contributed to their extinction.
Others hypothesise that climate change may have caused their extinction, although this argument
does not account for the fact that megafaunal species survived two million years of climatic
oscillations, including a number of arid glacial periods, before their sudden extinction.
Noted Australian artist Peter Trusler
has a long and close working relationship
with Professor Patricia Vickers-Rich, the consulting palaeontologist on this stamp issue.
In 1993 a similar collaboration occurred when Peter illustrated the stamp issue
"Australian Dinosaur Era
" and again in 2005 with
"Creatures of the Slime
", the first living creatures.
Since the 1980's, Peter Trusler, trained as a biologist/anatomist (B.Sc. from Monash)
and wildlife artist has worked with Prof. Vickers-Rich and Dr. Thomas Rich on a number of projects
to visualize past environments.
Together they have produced many books (Wildlife of Gondwana (Indiana University Pres),
The Fossil Book (Doubleday), The Dinosaurs of Darkness (Allen & Unwin) and the cover of
Time Magazine in 1993.
Trusler has worked for National Geographic and two of his paintings of Australia's ancient past
grace the walls of the NGS Headquarters in Washington, DC.
In the introduction of the Prestige Booklet Professor Patricia Vickers-Rich wrote:
In order to illustrate the megafauna as accurately as possible, artist Peter Trusler undertakes
extensive research before he begins his work.
As the source material is often fragmentary, Peter first reads as much as he can on the selected species
of what fossilised remains and skeletons may exist; of where and how they were found and of the
various hypotheses that exist on how they may have looked like, their size, particular characteristics,
He will then search through museum collections and take relevant sketch notes and photos before
investigating the actual sites where many of the skeletons and fossils were found.
And lastly Peter discussed anatomical issues with a number of experts from museums and academic institutions.
The detailed illustrative process then begins, a process that involves three stages -
skeleton reconstruction; muscle reconstruction; and finally the whole animal reconstruction stage.
Great thought and attention goes into every aspect of Peter's work including the posture arid scale of the
animals and their likely environment.
Refinements continue to be made until Peter is happy that his Illustrations accommodate the basic structure
of the animals revealed by the fossil data and all the elements in the wider scene are reconciled with
current scientific thinking.
But Peter is not simply recreating scientifically accurate extinct animals he is also an artist and as
such creates panoramas of exquisite detail, drama and harmony with strong intrinsic visual rhythms.
The setting of the Mini-Sheet is an outback creek, which previous to the last glaciation would have been
lusher than the arid environment of today.
In the unfolding story, a
(Australian's marsupial lion) has scavenged or killed a young
Two other predatory species, the
(giant varanid) and
, close in on the Thylaceleo
The mother Diprotodon
attempts to repel the predators, while the
(the last of the large flightless birds) and other species, flee the scene.
(giant short-faced kangaroo) looks on from the far creek bank.
The setting also includes Major Mitchell Cockatoos and modern Macropos
Kangaroos, both species existing in
the late Pleistocene period.
Although resembling the emu and the cassowary, the Genyornis
is not related
to them - instead, it appears related to ducks, geese and swans
and the living South American screamers of the Anhimidae
The carbon isotopes in the bones of Genyornis
suggest that it ate
perennials, shrubs and herbaceous plants.
|Genyornis on stamp of Australia 2008, MiNr.: 3102, Scott: 2975.
Emu and Genyornis
egg-shells are commonly found together in sediments deposited up to 50,000 years
ago, but younger dunes and sediments only contain emu egg-shells.
The first bones were reported by Sir Richard Owen
a British anatomist who described many of this continent's fossil animals, from the
Wellington Caves in the 1830s, but the most complete remains found thus far
have come from the Lake Callabonna salt pan in northern South Australia, where an
expedition from the South Australian Museum recovered complete skeletons in the late 1890s.
|Diprotodon on stamp of Australia 2008, MiNr.: 3103, Scott: 2976.
Australian's largest marsupial looks just like a giant wombat, but was the size of a car,
at 4 metres in length, 1.8 metres tall at the shoulder, nearly 3 tonnes in weight and
is a close relative of living wombats and koalas.
was the first fossil mammal from Australia to be given a scientific name - in 1838 by
Sir Richard Owen
The name means "two forward teeth", referring to the two prominently projecting incisors
in the lower jaw that point straight ahead.
A reward was posted, by Owen, for the finding of a complete foot of this enigmatic pouched beast
and it was not until 1892, after Owen died, at Lake Callabonna, that articulated skeletons,
including complete feet and even trackways, were excavated.
was Australian's largest marsupial, a quadruped with complex feet that almost seemed
too small to support its weight.
One big toe opposed all others in a fashion that reflected its arboreal ancestry.
seemed to thrive on the grasslands and may have lived in small herds, but as aridity
increased and water decreased, they could not cope.
Extended droughts would have made much of inland Australia uninhabitable; hundreds of individuals
have been found at the centre of Lake Callabonna in northern South Australia, trapped in the mud as
the lakebed dried out.
On the Darling Downs in Queensland, one study of Diprotodon
habitat has found that areas once covered in
woodlands, vine thickets and scrublands gave way to grasslands as the climate became drier.
is known from many sites across Australia, including the Darling Downs in
southeastern Queensland; Wellington Caves, Tambar Springs and Cuddie Springs in New South Wales;
Bacchus Marsh in Victoria; and Lake Callabonna,
and Burra in South Australia.
There is some evidence of either predation or scavenging of Diprotodon
by the Pleistocene 'marsupial lion',
: a forelimb bone (ulna) from near Glen Innes, New South Wales was found
with deep, blade-like tooth marks matching those of Thylacoleo
(whose teeth were also found at the site).
|Thylacoleo on stamp of Australia 2008, MiNr.: 3104, Scott: 2977.
The marsupial, Thylacoleo carnifex
, was first described by
Sir Richard Owen
in 1859 as the
"fellest and most destructive of predatory beasts".
Few extinct animals from Australia
have aroused so much curiosity.
Some reconstruct this strange marsupial as an efficient carnivore, others as an omnivore and still others,
such as American palaeontologist E. Drinker Cope
in 1884 as a fruit or egg eater!
harked from a possum ancestry and it retains the anatomy in its hands and feet
typical of animals adapted to life in the trees — but adaptations in the forelimb that could also
have been useful in manipulating prey.
Its hand is made up of four relatively slender, elongated digits with small claws and a manoeuvrable thumb
with a large, hooded claw.
Another most unusual feature of Thylacoleo
is its skull with cheek teeth dominated by a huge,
blade-like third premolar.
This has been compared to the shearing carnassial teeth in placental carnivores, such as cats and dogs.
, with the dimensions of a modern lioness, up to 160 kilograms in weight,
and with premolar guillotines so powerful that they doubled as bolt cutters, for crushing bone as well as
slicing flesh make these "marsupial lions" not only the largest mammalian predators in Australia of their
time, but also one of the most efficient predators in mammal history.
Not only did they have a very strong bite, but they were also able to climb trees using their flexible
forelimbs and shoulders reducing the possibility that their prey could escape.
|Thylacine on stamp of Australia 2008, MiNr.: 3105, Scott: 2978.
, (Thylacinus cynocephalus
), also called the marsupial wolf, Tasmanian Tiger
or Tasmanian Wolf, largest carnivorous marsupial of recent times.
has a long history in Australia, dating back to at least the Miocene.
Europeans first knew it as a living marsupial restricted to Tasmania, yet Thylacines
survived on mainland Australia
until at least 3,300 years ago.
The introduction of the dingo by humans pushed Thylacine
to extinction on the mainland.
Actively hunted in Tasmania in the 1800s as sheep farming spread, the final living individual
died in the Hobart Zoo in 1933.
Although neither a wolf nor tiger, it was given its misleading name because it was dog-like
and possessed stripes.
In 2009 an international team of geneticists announced that they had successfully sequenced the genome
of the thylacine.
In 2022 Colossal Inc., an American biotechnology company, and the University of Melbourne’s Thylacine
Integrated Genomic Restoration Lab announced a partnership to resurrect the species and reintroduce it
|Procoptodon on stamp of Australia 2008, MiNr.: 3107, Scott: 2980.
was probably the largest of all kangaroos it stood
about 2.5 metres tall and weighed upwards of 200 kilograms.
Experts see Procoptodon
as a grazer on resistant forage rather than a browser on
It had very long arms bearing two unusually long fingers on each hand, which some
scientists think may have been for reaching high in vegetation such as be black oaks and she-oaks.
Others suggest long arms more easily assisted locomotion on all fours in the grasslands.
Its feet bore only a single toe, unlike modern kangaroos, which possess smaller side toes.
According to the Australian Museum, Procoptodon
would have co-existed with Aboriginal people
for as long as 30,000 years.
In NSW Aboriginal people continue to have stories about a long-armed aggressive kangaroo that
fits the description of the species.
These animals may have survived in some parts of Australia until around 18,000 years ago.
|Megalania on stamp of Australia 2008, MiNr.: 3106, Scott: 2979.
was arguably the "top dog", the largest predator of the megafauna in Australia.
It probably had similar predatory habits to the much smaller Komodo Dragon - the largest living
varanid lizard and known to have eaten people.
The dragons are often outright scavengers, but can be efficient ambush predators, lying in wait
along game trails for deer, pigs and even buffalo.
Megalania is not known from complete skeletons and so some of its reconstruction is based on the
living varanid lizards.
But, there are certainly differences.
Its teeth are more widely spaced than in other varanids.
They are also more curved, sharply smooth in front, but serrated at the rear, giving
a very formidable bite in contrast to unserrated teeth in other species.
Unlike any known varanid, Megalania
had a short crest on the top of its skull.
In Asia the first fossil records of varanids occur at a time when Australia was separating
from Antarctica, but they do not occur in our record until the time Australia began its collision
with Southeast Asia.
The biggest part of the text above was written by
Professor Patricia Vickers-Rich, Chair of Paleontology, Monash University, who was scientific consultant
for these stamps issue. She wrote the text for the "Prestige Booklet" and
Stamp Bulletin of Australian Post in 2008.
Products and associated philatelic items
|The reverse side is
||The reverse side is
(clean and surcharged)
||Surcharged at Beijing stamp shows in 2008
||Surcharged in 2022 for
"Impression Collection: Animals of the Deep Past"
|The Mini-Sheet, as well as single stamps, sold by Australian Post in
small plastic bags with
a piece of thick paper.
||Surcharged postmarks used black ink.
* Surcharged Mini-sheets from other stamp shows may exist.
|Surcharged postmarks on the numbered Mini-Sheet used golden ink.
The postmark depicts the footprint of Diprotodon
|Stamps from the Sheets
|Special Postmarks: "Stampex 2008"
||Mini-Sheets from the Prestige Booklet
|Example of Circulated Covers and Postcards
|The reverse side is
||The reverse sides are
||Some coil strips contained message labels between stamps
The self-adhesive coil stamps were printed by two companies: "Energi Print P/L" and "Pemara",
which differ in the order and distance of the stamps in the coil and the company name on
the reverse side.
Some videos about Australian Megafauna
- Technical details:
Stamp Bulletin of Australian Post, Nr. 294 from September-October 2008 (p. 14-17),
reverse side of an official FDC,
Prestige Booklet of Australian Post.
- Australian Megafauna:
- Peter Trusler:
Archive Monash University,
Spiegel Wiessenschaft ,
- Professor Patricia Vickers-Rich:
- Diprotodon :
- Procoptodon :
Many thanks to
Dr. Peter Voice
from Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, Western Michigan University, for his help to find an information for this article,
the draft page review and his very valuable comments.