Benin 1984 "Dinosaurs"

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Issue Date 14.12.1984
ID Michel: 377-378, Scott: 587-588, Stanley Gibbons: 951-952, Yvert et Tellier: 606-607, Category: pF
Designer O. Baillais
Stamps in set 2
Value 75f - Anatosaurus
90f - Brontosaurus
Emission/Type commemorative
Issue place Cotonou
Size (width x height) 29mm x 39mm
Products Souvenir Covers x2
Perforation 13.5
Print Technique Offset, multicolor
Printed by Cartor Security Printing, France
Issuing Authority
Dinosaurs on stamps of Benin 1984

Two stamps depicting dinosaurs issued by Post Authority of Benin in 1984, show outdated scientific reconstructions of both Anatosaurus and Brintosaurus, based on an illustration done by famous Czech artist Zdenek Burian.
The design of one of the stamps is based on a painting by Zdenek Burian titled "Trachodon and Tyrannosaurus" painted in 1938. The painting was used as an illustration in a vintage book, "Prehistoric Animals" published in 1956.

The Anatosaurus or "Duck Lizard" was one of the last large dinosaurs to roam the earth. It flourished during the Late Cretaceous Epoch - about one hundred million years ago. It was a graceful animal which walked on two feet and ran rapidly with its long flattened tail outstretched. Its body was covered with a leathery skin similar to a Gilla monster's.
Anatosaurus on stamp of Benin 1984 Trachodon and Tyrannosaurus painting of Zdenek Burian (1938)
Anatosaurus on stamp of Benin 1984 "Trachodon and Tyrannosaurus" painting of Zdenek Burian (1938)
Image credit: Flickr
A mature Anatosaurus stood fourteen feet tall and weighed three to four tons. It had long powerful legs and large three-toed feet; its forelimbs were slender and had four-fingered webbed hands. Its broad, spoon-bill beak was lined with prism-shaped teeth arranged in alternating rows along its upper and lower jaws. Anatosaurus was primarily a vegetarian who enjoyed browsing on shrubs and conifers along lush tropical riverbanks.
Like giraffes, they probably stripped leaves and shoots from branches when feeding. Its large eyes and high, deep nostrils allowed it to quickly sense impending danger. To avoid the huge carnivores like Tyrannosaurus, it probably depended upon its keen senses and speed, but its crocodile-like tail made it a proficient swimmer too. Sixty-five million years ago the Age of Dinosaurs ended in a global catastrophe. Today only fossil evidence remains of Anatosaurus. Complete fossils of Anatosaurus have been uncovered in the Lance Formation of Wyoming.

Like the other stamp in this issue, the Brontosaurus stamp was also based on a painting by Zdenek Burian. This painting was completed in 1950 and was also used as an illustration in the vintage book "Prehistoric Animals" published in 1956.
Brontosaur on stamp of Benin 1984 Brontosaur painting of Zdenek Burian
Brontosaur on stamp of Benin 1984 Brontosaur painting of Zdenek Burian
Image credit: Flickr
Though it was an herbivore, the Brontosaurus numbers among the largest land animals that ever lived. It was so large, in fact, there has been some debate as to whether such an enormous beast could support its great bulk on land or was forced to dwell almost exclusively in water. While it is most likely the creature spent a lot of time in the water to help support its tremendous weight, and also took refuge from predators by retreating into the water, scientists now believe that Brontosaurus was able to get around on land with relative grace. However, it probably represents the maximum size and bulk attainable by a land animal. This huge swamp-dweller stood on four huge, elephant-like legs, and had a long neck and tail. However, its tiny head took up only about two feet of its eighty-foot length. The size, shape and features of brontosaurus' head were disputed by scientists for more than a century after the first remains were uncovered. Incomplete finds, and the possibility of a mix-up of fossils in transit from an excavation site created great uncertainty, and the head was represented in early models as snub-nosed; the teeth, spoon-like. In 1978, however, scientists rejected this representation in favor of a slender, elongated skull containing long, sharp teeth. These teeth may have looked dangerous, but they were really rather delicate and probably only suitable for eating the most tender plants.

Products and associated philatelic items

Souvenir covers Example of circulated covers
Anatosaurus and Brontosaurus dinosaurs on FDC of Benin 1984
Anatosaurus stamp on used covers of Benin 1984 Brontosaurus stamp on used covers of Benin 1984
These "FDC" covers were produced in by American company Fleetwood in 1986, but cancelled with official post mark of Benin from 1984, as can be seen on the reverse side.

References: Wind Rivers Studio, back side of Fleetwod FDC

Many thanks to Dr. Peter Voice, PhD Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, Western Michigan University, USA, for review of a draft of this article.

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