Canada 1991 "Prehistoric Life in Canada II, The Age of Primitive Vertebrates"

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Issue Date 05.04.1991
ID Michel: 1222-1225, Scott: 1306-1309, Stanley Gibbons: 1417-1420, Yvert et Tellier: 1180-1183, Category: pR
Design Design: Rolf P. Harder, Bernie Reilander
Engraver: Larry Bloss
Stamps in set 4
Value 40 - Eusthenopteron foordi, Early Fish, Devonian Period
40 - Hylonomus lyelli, Land Reptile, Carboniferous Period
40 - Conodonts, Microfossils, Palaeozoic Era
40 - Archaeopteris halliana, Early Tree, Devonian Period
Emission/Type commemorative
Places of issue Miguasha, PO
Size (width x height) 40mm x 30mm
Layout Stamps-Sheet of 20
Products FDC x1
Paper Peterborough paper (PP) with fluorescent frame (GT4), no watermark
Perforation 12.5 x 13.5
Print Technique Offset lithography
Printed by Ashton-Potter Limited
Quantity 3 750 000 each
Issuing Authority Canadian Post
The Age of Primitive Vertebrates on stamps of Canada 1991

On April 5th 1991, Canadian Post issued the set "Prehistoric Life in Canada II, The Age of Primitive Vertebrates" - the second four stamps in a four-year series on "Prehistoric Life in Canada". The series is chronological and covers an interval of time from 1900 million to 10,000 years ago.
The first four stamps in this series were issued as stamps denominated at 39 cents on July 12, 1990. The second set was released after a postal rate hike and are denominated at 40 cents each. This series of stamps was designed by Rolf Harder, a Montreal graphic designer.
The choice of subjects was made with the assistance of Canadian paleontologists, taking into account the evolutionary importance of the life form, its location in Canada and its visual suitability for depiction on a stamp.
This year the stamps depict organisms from approximately 380 to 270 million years ago which have been discovered fossilized in different parts of the country.

  • The first stamp depicts toothlike microfossils of calcium phosphate called conodonts, believed to be the fossilized mouth parts of small, primitive eel-like creatures. They lived in the world's oceans from the late Cambrian Period to the end of the Triassic Period, some 510 to 208 million years ago. Conodonts are among the best fossils for dating rocks due to their abundance and wide distribution and because they evolved rapidly during their 300 million year history.
  • Eusthenopteron foordi, a prehistoric type of bony, lobe-finned fish, is the subject of the second stamp. It lived during the Devonian Period, the Age of Fish - about 370 million years ago. It had lungs and powerful paired fins, suggesting a form of limbs which may have enabled it to crawl on land. This fish may have been ancestral to the amphibians, the first terrestrial vertebrates. Fossilized remains of Eusthenopteron foordi have been found in the area of Chaleur Bay near Miguasha, Quebec.
  • The only plant in this set, Archaeopteris halliana, is the subject of the third stamp. Dating from the Devonian Period, about 360 million years ago, it had a trunk over one metre in diameter at the base and grew to over 25 metres high, forming the first high-crowned forests. An important part of the ecosystem in which the first land-dwelling vertebrates evolved, it was woody and looked like today's conifers. It did not however bear seeds but reproduced by spores like ferns and mosses. Fossilized remains of Archaeopteris halliana have been found near Miguasha, Quebec and Ellesmere Island NWT.
  • Hylonomus lyelli, a reptile similar to a lizard, is depicted on the final stamp of the set. It lived during the Carboniferous Period, some 300 million years ago. The agile animal had well-developed limbs, a small head and conical teeth. Growing up to 40 cm in length, it was an insect-eater that breathed air and lived on land, where the females laid eggs. This early reptile was an evolutionary advancement. Fossilized remains of Hylonomus lyelli have been found near Joggins, Nova Scotia.

Products and associated philatelic items

FDC Customized FDC Info sheet
The Age of Primitive Vertebrates on FDC of Canada 1991 The Age of Primitive Vertebrates on FDC of Canada 1991 Prehistoric Life in Canada, The Age of Primitive Vertebrates on stamps of Canada 1991
The reverse side is here
First-Day-of-Issue Postmark Example of circulated covers Stamps Sheet
Hylonomus lyelli on postmark of Canada 1991 Prehistoric Life in Canada, The Age of Primitive Life stamps of Canada 1991 on used cover Prehistoric Life in Canada, The Age of Primitive Vertebrates on stamps of Canada 1991

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

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