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Russia 2020 "Paleontologic Heritage of Russia"

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Issue Date 03.06.2020
ID Michel: Scott: UPU: Category: pR, pF
Designer stamps: Vladimir Ivanovich Beltyukov
FDC: N. Karpova
Consultant Staff of Paleontologic Museum in Moscow
Stamps in set 40 RUB - Inostrancevia (Inostrancevia alexadri)
40 RUB - Russian pliosaurus (Pliosaurus rossicus)
40 RUB - Woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius)
40 RUB - Giant Deer (Megaloceros giganteus)
Total stamps in set: 4
Size stamps size: 65×32.5 mm, Mini-Sheet size: 150×157 mm
Layout Mini-Sheet of 8 stamps (two sets)
Products FDC: 24 (4 covers with 1 stamp each x 6 different postmarks),
FDC Cover without stamps: 1, Souvenir Booklet: 1
Paper Coated
Perforation 12x12.5
Print Technique Offset + security system
Printed by
Quantity 30.000 Mini-Sheets, 5.500 Booklets with 1 Mini-Sheet inside
Issuing Authority MARKA Publishing & Trading Centre
Fossils and reconstructions of prehistoric animals on stamps of Russia 2020

On June 3rd, 2020 Post Authority of Russia issued a set of 4 stamps depicting some prehistoric animals and their fossils (skulls) - "Paleontological Heritage of Russia".

Paleontology is the scientific study of fossil remains of plants and animals. Its main task is to study and reconstruct on the basis of the found remains the habits, biological features, methods of nutrition and reproduction of extinct animals, as well as to restore the course of their biological evolution.

These stamps shows a large variety of prehistoric animals from different eras of the Earth's geological history that have been found in rocks in the territory of modern-day Russia (include occupied territories - Crimean Peninsula [PM1]).
The postal stamps provide images of fossil remains and reconstructed images of Inostrancevia alexadri, Pliosaurus rossicus (Russian pliosaurus), Mammuthus primigenius (Woolly Mammoth), Megaloceros giganteus (Giant Deer). [R1]

Inostrancevia, originally spelled with "z" Inostranzevia, is an extinct genus of carnivorous therapsid from the Permian period (about 260–254.2 million years ago).

"The Permian Period derives its name from the Russian region of Perm, where rocks deposited during this time are particularly well developed." ENCYCLOPADIA BRITANNICA

Inostrancevia alexadri on stamp of Russia 2020
Reconstruction of Inostrancevia on the stamp is horizontally flipped image from a reconstruction (image to right) by Soviet Paleontologist and Artist Alexey Petrovich Bystrov. The original, color, picture is exhibited at the Paleontological Museum of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow), shows an individual of Inostrancevia preying upon a Pareiasaur. Pareiasaurs were a group of anapsids reptiles related to modern turtles.

The image of the skull on the stamp is from the most complete skeleton of Inostrancevia that is on exhibit at the Paleontologic Museum in Moscow. Excavated in 1899 in North Russia, by famous Russian paleontologist Vladimir Prokhorovich Amalitskii. Inostrancevia alexadri on stamp of Russia 2020
Image is from izi.travel website
Inostrancevia and Pareiasaurus on illustration of Alexey Petrovich Bystrov (1899—1959) The most famous painting of Soviet Paleontologist and Artist Alexey Petrovich Bystrov (1899—1959), "Inostrancevia devouring a Pareiasaur", shows reconstrctions of Inostrancevia alexandri and Scutosaurus karpinskyi. This reconstruction appeared for the first time, as a black and white image, in an article of Bystrov, " ОПЫТ РЕКОНСТРУКЦИИ НЕКОТОРЫХ ПРЕДСТАВИТЕАЕЙ СЕВЕРО-ДВИНСКОЙ ФАУНЫ" (“The experience of reconstruction of some representatives of the North Dvina fauna”) published in "ТРУДЫ ПААЕОЗООАОГИЧЕСКОГО ИНСТИТУТА, ТОМ IV" (TRAVAUX DE l’INSTlTUT PALÊOZOOLOGIQUE DE l’ACADÉMIE DES SCIENCES DE l’URSS TOME ‘IV) in 1935, written on Russian and German.

Inostrancevia is one of the largest representatives of extinct predatory therapsids (a group that includes mammals and their reptilian ancestors) from the Gorgonopsian suborder, predators characterized by long, saber-tooth-like canines. Some paleontologists suggest that the skin may have been covered with hair.
Inostrancevia had an average mass of 300 kg and was about 4 meters long. It shared its habitat with Scutosaurus and Pareiasaurus which it likely preyed upon. Its lifestyle resembled a modern crocodile.

Inostrancevia had a light and slender skeleton, which indicates the mobility and agility of the animal. It had a powerful skull: a high, laterally compressed facial part, a high lower jaw, huge dagger-like fangs hanging downwards and dagger-like incisors. The upper canines are provided with huge roots and resemble the canines of saber-toothed cats. The teeth were probably quickly replaced (the replacement fang grew out behind the main one) and easily fell out. The jaw apparatus of a Inostrancevia is peculiar.
According to paleontologist M.F. Ivachenko the jaw's construction and the location of the teeth allowed the animal only to tear off pieces of meat from its prey instead of chewing like modern mammalian carnivores. Such jaws are effective only for cutting large prey and Inostrancevia would have had to swallow the pieces of meat whole. Moreover Inostrancevia had an unusual attachment of cranial bones. During the bite, the bones slightly diverged to the sides, while the upper fangs turned slightly and stood in line with the lower. This allowed the lizard to cut large pieces of meat from the carcass.
The lower fangs of Inostrancevia were almost as large as the upper. The upper fangs had a curious feature: they sat weakly in the jaw. This adaptation protected Inostrancevia from damaging its jaws when it was killing prey. If the prey was energetically thrashing, the canines would fall out instead of breaking off. Losing the canines was not a problem though, because there were two or three interchangeable fangs in the form of embryo-crowns. As soon as the old fang flew out, the spare immediately moved into position, and a few weeks later a brand new large fang sat in the jaw. Periodic rotation of the fangs also passed. Throughout life, the fangs of Inostrancevia changed dozens of times. It is no coincidence that in mass graves canines are often found separately. [R2]

First discovered by a Russian paleontologist Vladimir Prokhorovich Amalitskii (1859-1917) in 1899 and named it after his mentor, great Russian geologist and paleontologist Alexander Alexandrowitsch Inostranzev - Inostrancevia alexandri.
Inostrancevia alexandri presented to the science community for the first time in 1901 at a Congress of Russian Naturalists and Doctors. Described by Amalitskii, but published 5 years after his death, in 1922.

Russian paleontologist Vladimir Prokhorovich Amalitskii Since his days as a student time, Amalitskii collected and studied fossilized shells of freshwater bivalves of the Permian period. The first shells he found in the Nizhny Novgorod region, later on in the Arkhangelsk region (North of Russia). Slowly he became an expert on this topic. He compared his shells with shells from major Paleontological Museums of Europe. In 1895 he compared his shells to South African shells (Karoo formation) fin the collection of the Natural History Museum in London. He was convinced that they were not just similar, but even identical and belonged to the same species. The results of his research were contributed to the Geological Society of London in a paper entitled "A Comparison of the Permian Freshwater Lamellibranchiata from Russia with those from the Karoo System of South Africa" (Quart. Journ. Geol. Soc, vol. li, pp. 337-51, pis. xii, xiii, 1895).
He concluded that in the Permian period Russia, Africa and related with her, India constituted a “continuous continent” inhabited by the same animals and plants. This hypothesis found no support in scientific community, as generally accepted opinion was that in the Permian period there were two isolated mainlands - southern and northern, with dramatically different flora and fauna. To prove his concept he started to look at fossils of Permian vertebrates in the Northern regions of Russia.

Afterward he and his wife spent four seasons (1895-1898), on their own cost, in a boat in exploring promising localities along the Northern Dvina River. In 1898 he found a locality of Permian animal and plant fossils, near the villages Efimovskaya and Kotlas in the Arkhangelsk region. As result of this discovery he received some grants, allowing him to continue to dig there for the next 10 years in the row and discover a very rich collection of terrestrial and freshwater animals and plants of amazing completeness and preservation. This site produced almost three dozen more or less complete skeletons of Pareiasaurus, of various size and ages, including a very young animal as well as individuals Scutosaurus, Inostrancevia, Dicynodont, Dvinosaurus and many more. [R2a]

Two other species of Inostrancevia are known to date from a dozen discoveries across Russia:
Inostrancevia latifrons, found by Pravoslavlev Pavel Alexandrovich, in 1927 at the same location where Amalitskii found his speciments,
Inostrancevia uralensis, described by Tatarinov Leonid Petrovich in 1974 based on braincase unearthed near Orenburg.

Nowadays, all of the most significant fossils of Inostrancevia include all skeletons collected by Amalitskii, can be seen in Paleontological Museum in Moscow (appeared on FDC cachet of Soviet stamp of prehistoric animals in 1990).

Russian pliosaurus (Pliosaurus rossicus) (150 million years ago).

"Pliosaurs are a group of large carnivorous marine reptiles characterized by massive heads, short necks, and streamlined tear-shaped bodies.
They are classified in the order Plesiosauria, along with their long-necked relatives, the plesiosaurs." ENCYCLOPADIA BRITANNICA

Russian pliosaurus Pliosaurus rossicus  on stamp of Russia 2020
The reconstruction of the Pliosaur on the stamp is from a painting done by Russian paleo-artist Andrey Atuchin.

The skull on the stamp represents a reconstruction of the skull of Pliosaurus rossicus based on the partial skull in collection of the Paleontologic Museum in Moscow. The original fossil skull is on exibit in the museum. The reconstruction only shown is special temporary exhibits.
Mounted fossil of Inostrancevia.alexandri
The image provided by Paleontologic Museum in Moscow

Pliosaurus rossicus on illustration of Andrey Atuchin Painting of famous Russian paleo-artist Andrey Atuchin "Pliosaurus rossicus", who created it in 2018 as an illustration for a book about prehistoric animals of the Volga River region "Kogda Volga byla morem. Leviafany i piligrimy", 2nd edition, (ISBN 978-5-91304-432-7)

One of the largest marine reptiles of the Jurassic period uncovered in Russia is Pliosaurus rossicus (the Russian pliosaurus). These pliosaurs swam in the Russian Sea at the end of the period.

The Russian Sea appeared in the middle of the Jurassic period, by rising sea levels led to flooding the whole Volga region. Around the area of ​​modern Kazan, two epicontinental basins connected the northern Boreal Ocean and the southern Tethys. In the East, it reached the Ural Mountains, in the West it flooded the Voronezh land mass providing a connection between the two oceans in the North and South. The Russian Sea occupied an area approximately equal to twice the size of the modern Mediterranean sea.

Pliosaurus rossicus were among the largest marine predators in the history of the Earth.
They hunted very large prey, as ichthyosaur Grendelius (Grendelius is a genus of platypterygiinae ophthalmosaurid ichthyosaur from the Late Jurassic of the UK and European Russia) for example. This pliosaur had very powerful and large jaw with teeth in trihedral shape and sharp cutting edges. They lurked in dark water, then rushed upwards towards prey silhouetted at the surface, cut small prey in pieces in one bite. A short neck and jaw structure adapted for clamping onto big prey and tearing large chunks of meat off. Crocodiles and sharks have a similar jaw structure. [R3]

In 1948 Russian paleontologist Nestor Ivanovich Novozhilov described two new species of Pliosaurs, based on partial fossil discoveries made a few years earlier in shale mine at Volga region - Pliosaurus irgisensis (the species name is derived from the name of the Maly Irgiz River, where the holotype was found) and Pliosaurus rossicus.

Skeleton of Pliosaurus rossicus in exhibition of Coal and Minerals Museum in Iwaki city, Japan
The image is from website of Coal and Minerals Museum in Iwaki city, Japan
The fossilized skeleton that became the holotype of Pliosaurus rossicus was found in 1937 in the Buinsky shale mine in Chuvashia region of Russia, and belonged to a very young pliosaurus who did not exceed 5m in length.
A much larger skeleton of the same species found in 1945 in shale mine near the village of Ozinki in the Saratov region. The skeletons was about 9m long, but most of the fossil was destroyed by a blasting accident in the mine. Only few fragments were recovered from the mine, include the 70cm tip of the muzzle which is currently on display at the Paleontological Museum in Moscow.

The best known fossil of Pliosaurus rossicus known to date, unearthed by fossil hunters near to Ulyanovsk city of Russia in mid-1990th and illegally moved to Japan, where it was perfectly prepared and mounted in Coal and Minerals Museum in Iwaki city.
The museum use its own "landscape" postmark since a while, but show Plesiosaurus (long neck relative of Pliosaurs) on it.

At the beginning of March 1933, a skeleton Pliosaurus irgisensis (another species of "Russian" Pliosaurs, described by N. I. Novozhilov) was found in the Savelievsky mine, near Saratov city.
Skeleton of Pliosaurus irgisensis
The first Pliosaur (Pliosaurus irgisensis) mounted in USSR in 1933. Curator of Local History Museum in Pugachovsk Mr. K. I. Zuravlev on the right.
Back flipper is real, the front is gypsum, created by Zuravlev.
The image is from Wikipedia
The fossil was moved to the Local History Museum of Pugachev town, where it was prepared and mounted by the curator of the museum, an amateur paleontologist K. I. Zuravlev (it was the first Pliosaur species that found an mounted in USSR and it was the only Pliosar skeleton mounted in USSR for a while). Due to lack of many bones, Zuravlev was able to mount only right part of the animal and even there he completed some missing bones with gypsum pieces, the front flipper for example, created on his imagination.

The skeleton was on show of the museum between 1933 and October 1941. Unfortunately, due to bad storage condition during the World War II, most bones were destroyed or lost.
As it is the only fossil of Pliosaurus irgisensis known to date, due the fact that the species definition in 1948 was based on muzzle tip only, some paleontologists argue that this is not a valid species and instead is a variant of Pliosaurus rossicus or another Pliosaur.

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The woolly mammoth (lived 300-200 thousand years ago) is an extinct species of the mammoth of the elephant family.

"Mammoth, (genus Mammuthus), any member of an extinct group of elephants found as fossils in Pleistocene deposits (2.6 million years ago - 11,700 years ago) over every continent except Australia and South America and in early Holocene deposits of North America.
The woolly, Northern, or Siberian mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) is by far the best-known of all mammoths. " ENCYCLOPADIA BRITANNICA

The word mammoth was first used in Europe during the early 17th century, when referring to maimanto tusks discovered in Siberia. The Russian word "mammoth" is supposedly derived from Mans. Mang ont - "earthen horn", then it fell into many European languages.
According to some indiguous Siberian people, the mammoth was a creature that lived underground, burrowing its tunnels as it went, and would die if it accidentally came to light.
Mammuthus primigenius on stamp of Russia 2020
The reconstruction of the Mammuthus on the stamp is from a painting done by Soviet and Russian artist Vladimir Dmitrievich Kolganov.

The skull on the stamp represents mammoth skull from an exhibition of Paleontologic Museum in Moscow.
Mammoth skull in Paleontologic Museum of Moscow
The image is from website of Paleontologic Museum in Moscow

Original images of the Mammoth on stamp of Russia 2020 Reconstruction of Mammoth  on stamp of Russia 2020

Painting of famous Soviet and Russian artist Vladimir Dmitrievich Kolganov (1923-2011), who made many drawings of prehistoric animals, based on their fossils, for Paleontologic Museum in Moscow and designed many stamps of USSR. The original image is on show in Mammoth hall of the museum.

In the oposite of a popular belief, mammoths are not the ancestors of modern elephants. African elephants and mammoths descended from a common African ancestor the extinct genus Primelephas 5-6 million years ago, and subsequently their lines developed in parallel.

Mammoth species can be identified from the number of enamel ridges on their molars; the primitive species had few ridges, and the amount increased gradually as new species evolved and replaced the former ones. At the same time, the crowns of the teeth became longer, and the skulls become higher from top to bottom and shorter from the back to the front over time to accommodate this.

The oldest representative of Mammuthus, the South African mammoth (Mammuthus subplanifrons), appeared around 5 million years ago during the early Pliocene in what is now southern and eastern Africa. The last species to emerge, the woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius), appeared about 400,000 years ago in East Asia, with some surviving on Russia's Wrangel Island in the Arctic Ocean until as recently as roughly 4,000 years ago, still extant during the construction of the Great Pyramid of ancient Egypt.

The woolly mammoths were perfectly adapted to life in the harsh conditions of a cold climate of North Europe and North America. Their characteristic feature was a dense coat. According to the excavated remains, they lived in family groups of 10-30 individuals, just like modern elephants. Compared to modern elephants, mammoths had a more massive body, shorter legs, longer hair, smaller ears and long curved tusks; the latter could serve the mammoth to get food in the winter from under the snow. [R4]

There are many Mammoth fossils and even entire mummified bodies found in Siberia region of Russia.

The earliest paleontological research of Mammoth's bones and tusks made state figure and historian Vasily Nikitich Tatishchev (1686-1750).
Vasily Tatishchev on stamp of USSR 1991 In 1720, Tatishchev was sent to the Ural moutaints as the head of the Siberian mountain factories. As he arrived, he start to collect folklore stories about misterious animal - mammoth. He also spent significant effort to collect some remains of the animal, "to see and investigate it". He got some tusks (indiguous people belived they ate horns of a mystical creature) from Yakutsk and Berezova, a piece of mummified body from Tyumen. Piece of a skull observed by Tatishchev in collection of major of Tobolsk.
In 1724 he gone to Sweden to study mining sciences. In Stockholm he was itroduced to professor E. Benzel, who studied people and animals of the North regions of Europe. One year later, in 1725, Tatishchev published, the first scintific article ever, about his investigations of mammoth bones: «Mamontova kost, i.e. ossa subterranea, fossilia, ingentia, ignot animalis Siberia adefferri coepta». In this article he concluded that mammoths are not elephants who died during Noah flood in India and moved by a water to Siberia, as many contemporary scientists suggested, but another kind of animal who leaved and died in Siberia in the past. He insist to contimue to search for entire skeleton of the animal, but it was found half of a century after his death.

Adams Mammoth on exhibition of Zoological Museum of the Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg The firts Mammoth skeleton, even with some remains of soft tissues, discovered in 1799 the Delta of Lena river on the Bykovsky Peninsula. In 1806, zoologist and botanist Mikhail Ivanovich Adams (1780–1832), who was in Yakutsk at that time, organized the excavation of the skeleton and its delivery to St. Petersburg (capital of Russia at this time), where it was mounted and exhibited in 1808 and became a sensation. This skeleton known as Mammoth of Adams today and still in an exhibition of Zoological Museum of the Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg. This discovery made it is clear that mammoth is not an Indian elephant as he was covered by a wool and have some other anatomical differences.

In 1799, German naturalist Johann Friedrich Blumenbach gave the woolly mammoth its scientific name, Elephas primigenius, later on renamed to Mammuthus primigenius, placing it in the same genus as the Asian elephant.

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Giant Deer (lived about 12 thousand years ago) is an extinct large artiodactyl mammal from the genus of Megaloceras. The creature, which had such huge horns, was first described by the Irish doctor Thomas Molyneux in 1697. In Russia, fossil remains of skeletons of the large-horned deer were found in the middle and southern latitudes - in the Ryazan and Sverdlovsk regions, in the Crimea [PM1] and the North Caucasus. Megaloceras is also found in Pleistocene deposits in Europe and related species in China.


Official Products
FDC Mini-Sheet Booklet
Fossils and reconstructions of prehistoric animals on FDC of Russia 2020 Fossils and reconstructions of prehistoric animals on stamps of Russia 2020 Fossils and reconstructions of prehistoric animals on stamps of Russia 2020
[PM1] Sevastopol is the largest city on the Crimean Peninsula and a major Black Sea port.
     Since annexing Crimea in 2014, the Russian Federation has administered Sevastopol as a federal city.
     Nevertheless, Ukraine and most of the UN member countries continue to regard Sevastopol as a city with special status within Ukraine.

[R1] Rusmarka: official stamps release on English, on Russian (verbose)
Press release on official site of Paleotologic Museum in Moscow (on Russian only)

[R2] References and additional information about Inostrancevia and its discovery
  1. Wikipedia (Russian)
  2. Wikipedia (English)
  3. Wikipedia (German)
  4. dinosaurs.afly.ru
  5. Sablezubyy_zveroyashcher on elementy.ru
  6. Inostrantseviya on elementy.ru
  7. 3D model of skull Inostrancevia.alexandri
  8. 3D model of skull Gorgonopsid (Inostrancevia)
  9. 3D model of Inostrancevia.alexandri
  10. "Inostrancevia in Paleomuseum of Russia" (video with Russian audio)
  11. "Battle of Permian time" (video with Russian audio)
[R2a] Vladimir Prokhorovich Amalitskii (discover of Inostrancevia)
  1. "The inventor of the pareiasaurs. Paleontologist V.P. Amalitsky and his gallery" by A.E. Nelikhov, 2020, ISBN 978-5-906811-83-7. Language: Russian
  2. museum-21.ru
  3. kotlaslib.aonb.ru
  4. cambridge.orgs
[R2b] Alexey Petrovich Bystrov (artist who made one of the first reconstruction of Inostrancevia)
  1. Wikipedia (Russian)
  2. molbiol.ru

[R3] References and additional information about Pliosaur and its discovery
  1. "Kogda Volga byla morem. Leviafany i piligrimy" / A.Ye. Nelikhov, M.S. Arkhangel'skiy, A.V. Ivanov., 2018. ISBN 978-5-91304-432-7, Language: Russian
  2. Wikipedia (Russian)
  3. Wikipedia (English)
  4. britannica.com
  5. undor-muz.ru
  6. elementy.ru
  7. pikabu.ru
  8. Yalta-24
  9. Local Hitory Museum in Pugachovsk
  10. Iwaki City Coal & Fossil Museum: kankou-iwaki.com
  11. Iwaki City Coal & Fossil Museum: sekitankasekikan.or.jp
[R3a] Konstantin Ivanovich Zhuravlev (discover of the fisrt fossils of Pliosaur in Russia)
  1. Wikipedia (Russian)
[R3b] Nestor Ivanovich Novozhilov (paleontologist who described Russian Pliosaur)
  1. Wikipedia (Russian)
[R3c] Some other Pliosaur species:
  1. Predator X(Pliosaurus funkei) - The Mysterious Marine Reptile! (5min video)
  2. Liopleurodon and the Pliosaurs (5min video)

[R4] References and additional information about Mammoth and its discovery
  1. Britanica
  2. Wikipedia
  3. Wikipedia (on Russian)
  4. ZIN Museum (on Russian)
  5. Woolly Mammoth: The Autopsy
    (47 minute video)
  6. Wikiwand (on Russian)
  7. extinct-animals.fandom.com
  8. Planetguide.ru (on Russian)
    part I part II
  9. cyberleninka.ru (on Russian)
  10. Interview withKolganov's daughter
  11. y
  12. z (on Russian)
[R4] References and additional information about Megaloceros and its discovery
  1. Britanica
  2. Wikipedia
  3. Wikipedia (on Russian)
  4. elementy.ru (on Russian)

[R5] Paleontologic Museum in Moscow: official site

[R6] Sevastopol: Wikipedia

Many thanks to fellow collector Dr. Peter Voice, Western Michigan University and the Michigan Geological Survey, USA, for his notes and draft page review.
Many thanks to the following persons for nice conversations, their clarifications and help to find some information:
   Constantin Tarasenko, Chief Curator of Paleontologic Museum in Moscow
   Anton E. Nelikhov, author of book "The inventor of the pareiasaurs. Paleontologist V.P. Amalitsky and his gallery"
   Daniil Naumov, expert in biography of Russian paleontologist and artist Alexey Petrovich Bystrov


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