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Tajikistan 2020 "Paleontology of Tajikistan"


Issue Date 20.12.2020
ID Michel: Scott: Stanley Gibbons: Yvert: UPU: Category: pR
Designer Rezo Kaishauri from Stamperija design team
Stamps in set 8
Value Four pairs:
TJS 6.30 Kansajsuchus extensus and
TJS 7.00 Settlement of Konsoy

TJS 5.80 Dinosaur footprint and
TJS 9.00 Shirkent National Park

TJS 5.80 Amonite Cleoniceras and
TJS 17.60 Pamir Montains

TJS 12.70 Mammuthus meridionalis and
15.00 Kayrakkum reservoir
Type commemorative
Size (width x height) Stamps : 40 x 30 mm
Mini-Sheets: 140 x 210 mm
Layout Four sheets of 4 pairs (8 stamps) each
Products FDC x1 MS x4
Paper gummed 102gm2
Perforation
Print Technique Digital print
Printed by Stamperija, Lithuania
Quantity 1.000 of every sheet
Issuing Authority Markazi Marka State Unitary Enterprise Tajik Post
Fossils and reconstruction of dinosaur and  other prehistoric animals as well as their fossil found places on stamps of Tajikistan 2020

On December 20th, 2020, Stamperija agency from Lithuania issued a set of 8 stamps on behalf of Tajikistan - "Paleontology of Tajikistan".
Distingushed from many other stamps of the agency, this stamps shows prehistoric animals who roamed on teritorry of modern Tajikistan country.

These stamps issued in four Mini-Sheets. Every Mini-Sheet contains four pairs of stamps.
The stamp on the left shows fossil, footprint or reconstruction of prehistoric animal when the stamp on the right shows landscape of a place where its fossils were found.
Left side of every Mini-Sheet has a short explanation on Tajik and English languages.

Reconstruction of the prehistoric animal in his living environment shown on the bottom side of the Mini-Sheet. To visualize these prehistoric animals, the stamp designer, made no sketch or computer drawing, but just manipulated some stock images of the agency, therefore these images doesn't show unique features of the reconstructed animals and might be not accurate from the scientific point of view.
Mammuthus meridionalis on the stamp has big ears, as by modern African elephant, when the Mammoth on the Mini-Sheet's margin has small ears, as by modern Asien elephant.

Kansajsuchus extensus from Konsoy village
Kansajsuchus extensus from settlement of Konsoy on stamps of Tajikistan 2020 Kansajsuchus extensus is the only species from extinct genus Kansajsuchus from Paraligator family.
Paraligator is an extinct genus of neosuchian crocodile inhabited vast area of Central Asia during the late Cretaceous Period, about 60-100 million years ago.

Many single bones, including vertebrae and bony armor, but complete skull, found by Soviet paleontologists near the vilage of Konsoy in the Sughd region of Tajikistan.
1964-1967 expeditions of Paleontological Institute (PIN) in Moscow, leaded by A.K. Rozhdestvensky and I.M. Klebanova (Novodvorskaya after her married in 1968).
1968 expedition of Leningrad (nowadays Saint Petersburg) State University , leaded by of L.A. Nesova.
All of these fossils are stored in Moscow and Saint Petersburg to date.

This paraligator was described in 1975 by Soviet paleontologist from Paleontologic Institue in Moscow - Mikhail Efimov (1947-2017), who assigned the aligantor to Goniopholididae family.
The name Kansajsuchus extensus refers to the village name where fossils of the animal are found and means "large crocodile of Kansaj".
Kansaj is the Russian name of Konsoy village and used in many Russian articles and scentific books and even in English articles written by Soviet and Russian paleontologists.

In 2018, international team of paleontologists from Vertebrate Zoology Department, Saint Petersburg State University in Russia and Department of Paleobiology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution in USA made phylogenetic analysis of Kansajsuchus extensus fossils Konsoy village in Tajikistan and Shach-Shach village in Kazakhstan. In total, ober 400 fossils of this prehistoric animal were analyzed. Result of this analysis allowed reinterpretation of the morphology of the animal and reassignment it to Paralligatoridae family.

This Tajk paraligator, contemporary of dinosaur, was comparable in size to large present-day members of the genus Crocodylus, with estimated total length of 5–7 meters and a dorsal cranial length of up to 70–80 cm.
One of the cranial bones (an isolated right premaxilla in dorsal) shown on the left side of the stamp with reconstruction of this prehistoric animal. Kansajsuchus extensus from settlement of Konsoy on stamps of Tajikistan 2020

Kansajsuchus extensus is one of the largest known members of the derived Neosuchia (a clade within that includes all modern extant crocodilians and their closest fossil relatives) , which were typically small to moderate-sized animals.

Similar to modern alligators Kansajsuchus had special skin ossifications - plates that, like armor, protected the back bone and belly of reptiles during fierce battles with prey or other crocodiles.
This prehistoric animal was even big enough to even attack some dinosaurs.
Fossils of some hadrosaurid dinosaurs, similar to Bactrosaurus johnsoni from the Iren Dabasu Formation of China, discovered by the same Soviet expedition of A.K. Rozhdestvensky in 1960s near Konsoy village too.



Dinosaur footprint from Shirkent National Park
Dinosaur footprint from Shirkent National Park on stamps of Tajikistan 2020 Shirkent Valley has been established a Nature Reserve in 1991, to preserve unique natural and geological environment.
The most significant among the geological objects are three locations of dinosaur traces: "Shirkent-1" , "Shirkent-2" and "Kharkush", with a total of over 400 footprints.
Initially it was planed to build visitor observation stations and staircase to allow easier access to the tourits, as well as some sheds over the footprints to protect it from erosion and rain.
Unfortunately, to date, since 30 years from establishment of the Park, nothng is done. The few tourist who visit this area per year have to climb to the tracks and rest on the stones under some trees.

"Shirkent-1" site discovered in 1963 by two Tajik geologists Sergey Zakharov and Firdavs Khakimov during their study of Cretaceous rocks in the valley.
This site with eight tracks of dinosaur footprints from Late Cretaceous period, located on one of the right banks of the Shirkent River, slightly above the village of the same name.

Footprints from Shirkent-1 site
The image is from a book "Nature and Ancients of Shirkent", issued by Academy of Science of Tajik SSR in 1991
These footprints, two tracks of 7 footprints, called "Macropodosaurus gravis", that means "big-legged, heavy lizard"
(Macropodosaurus gravis is not a dinosaur species name but ichnotaxon - the name of the footprints itself).
Three tracks are very well preserved, the footprints there clearly show the boundaries of the foot, four fingers and claws.
Average size of these footprints is 53cm by 29cm, depth of 3cm-5cm, the step length is about 75cm. These footprints made in sea shore mud, as indicated by some fossilized marine of gastropods, that found at the same place.
It was described and named in 1964 by Soviet paleontologist S. A. Zakharov.
In 2006, Russian paleontologist Andrey Sennikov from Paleontological Institute of Russian Academy of Science, re-examined these footprints and concluded that these tracks, most likely belongs to a therizinosaurid dinosaurs.
Therizinosaurs (once called Segnosaurs) were small to giant-sized, mainly herbivorous, theropod dinosaurs that have been found across the Early to Late Cretaceous deposits in Asia and North America.

Footprints from Shirkent-2 site
The image is from a book "Nature and Ancients of Shirkent", issued by Academy of Science of Tajik SSR in 1991
"Shirkent-2" site is located about five kilometers from the mouth of the Shirkent River, almost at the watershed of the left side of the river. Discovered in 1984.
This site conatin about 300 footprints and it is the biggest dinosaur's footprint site in Tajikistan.
Three types of three-toed footprints of Jurassic dinosaur, dated 164.7 - 155.7 million years ago, can be seen in this site.
Most of the footprints are about 50 cm long, but there are also about 65 cm, and up to 45 cm wide.
Type I and II (on the image in the right) belongs to bipedal (walking on two) Theropod dinosaurs, when type III belongs to big Sauropod dinosaur. Due the fact there are not footprint of front legs, the Sauropod was probably bipedal too.
These footprints (not dinosaurs) called: Shirkentosauropus shirkentensis (type I), Regarosauropus manovi (type II) and Mirsosauropus tursunzadei (type III).
Shirkentosauropus named after the valley.
Regarosauropus named after the region name, nowadays called Tursunzoda.
Mirsosauropus named after famous Tajik poet Mirzo Tursunzade, who was born somewhat east of the location of the tracks in the Karatag village.

Footprints from Kharkush site
The image is from a book "Nature and Ancients of Shirkent", issued by Academy of Science of Tajik SSR in 1991
"Kharkush"" site, discovered in 1983 located in the area of ​​the Pashmi-Kukhna village and has three dozen of footprints of only one three-toed dinosaur, but a real giant.
These footprints (not dinosaur) called Kharkushosauropus kharkushensis.
The length of his feet exceeds 70 cm, the width reaches 60, and the depth of the sinkhole under his tracks in some places is about 10 cm.

On top o the dinosaur tracks there are also some fossils of marine molusks and even their traces and signt of giant sea waves that preseverd in sea bed, can be seen in Shirkent National Park - another great stuff from Mesozoic era.

Due the fact that there are any fossils of the dinosaurs who leaved their tracks in the Shirkent National Park are found, it is hard to estimate how they are looked in a live.
The footprints Shirkentosauropus shirkentensis are probably belongs to a genus of large carnivorous theropod dinosaur, who might look similar to well known Jurassic dinosaur Allosaurus, therefore the stamp designer depcited slightly modified Allosaurus dinosaur from the stock image of the stamp agency on the bottom side of a Mini-Sheet with stamps of dinosaur footprints.
Most of Allosaurus fossils are discovered in Nord America in Morrison Formation. Some fossils of this dinosaur are known from Portugal and even shown on Portugese stamps in 1999 and 2015. Carnivorous dinosaurs on stamps of Tajikistan 2020



Amonite Cleoniceras from Pamir Montains
Amonite Cleoniceras from Pamir Montains on stamps of Tajikistan 2020 Ammonites formally Ammonoidea, are subclass of extinct Cephalopoda.
This group of extinct marine mollusc are more closely related to living coleoids such as octopuses, squid, and cuttlefish, than they are to shelled nautiloids such as the living Nautilus species.

The earliest ammonites appear during the Devonian Period (419 million years ago), and the last species vanished in the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction (66 million years ago) event.
Ammonites are excellent index fossils, because of their wide geographic distribution in shallow marine waters, rapid evolution, and easily recognizable features, it is often possible to link the rock layer in which a particular species or genus is found to specific geologic time periods.
Their fossil shells usually take the form of planispirals, although there were some helically spiraled and nonspiraled forms (known as heteromorphs).

The Cleoniceras species lived in ancient seas on the territory of modern Tajikistan about 120 million year ago.
Its fossills are can be found in valleys of Pamir, in Gorno-Badakhshan region of Tajikistan.
Amonite Cleoniceras from Pamir Montains on stamps of Tajikistan 2020



Mammuthus meridionalis from Kayrakkum reservoir
Mammuthus meridionalis from Kayrakkum reservoir on stamps of Tajikistan 2020 Southern mammoth (Mammuthus meridionalis) is one of the oldest mammoth species that lived in Early Pleistocene (2.6-0.7 million years ago) in Europe and Central Asia. This prehistric animal was one of the biggest in the Mammoth family and reached 4 meters high in a withers, with estimated weight of 10 tonnes.
Fossil and teeths ananylis of Mammuthus meridionalis indicates that it does not seem to have specialised in eating grasses like later species of mammoth‭, the Woolly Mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) for example. Its teeth were better adapted to eating leaves with the presence of ridges running atop of low crowns The Southern mammoth was more at home in‭ ‬woodland habitats that had a variety of trees and shrubs that it could browse from.‭

Some bones and a skull of Mammuthus meridionalis discovered on the shore of the Kayarakkum Reservoir in summer 2013.
Estimated age of the fossil is about 1.5 million years. It was excavated and transported to Sughd Regional Museum where it is on dipslay now. Mammuthus meridionalis from Kayrakkum reservoir on stamps of Tajikistan 2020




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FDC Mini Sheets
Fossils and reconstruction of dinosaur and  other prehistoric animals as well as their fossil found places on FDC of Tajikistan 2020 Fossils and reconstruction of dinosaur and  other prehistoric animals as well as their fossil found places on stamps of Tajikistan 2020



References:
[R1] Kansajsuchus:

  1. Wikipedia: Kansajsuchus, Paralligator,
  2. nauka.tass.ru (on Russian)
  3. Saint Petersburg State University (on Russian, the skull images in the article belióngs to modern aligators)
  4. " Revision of the large crocodyliform Kansajsuchus (Neosuchia) from the Late Cretaceous of Central Asia", by IVAN T. KUZMIN, PAVEL P. SKUTSCHAS, ELIZAVETA A. BOITSOVA, HANS-DIETER SUES. Published in Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2018, XX, 1–53
  5. "Ископамые Крокодилы и Хампсозавры Монголии и СССР", М.Б. Ефимов, издательство Наука, Москва 1988 (Book of Mikhail Efimov about prehistoric Crocodiles and Hampsosaurs of Mongolia and the USSR, issued in Moscow in 1988. On Russian)
  6. Paralligatoridae: Wikipedia
  7. Neosuchia: Wikipedia

[R2] Dinosaur footprints in Shirkent National Park:

  1. General information about the park: tourism.tj (English text is awful, you better select the Russian text then translate it to English with Google or any other online translator), Wikipedia (On Russian),
  2. Dinosaur footprints in Shirkent valley: dialog.tj (On Russian),
    "ИСКОПАЕМЫЕ СЛЕДЫ ЖИЗНИ НА ТЕРРИТОРИИ СРЕДНЕЙ АЗИИ", by Dzhailov and Novikov, Dushanbe 1987
    "Nature and Ancients of Shirkent", issued by Academy of Science of Tajik SSR in 1991
  3. Shirkent I tracksite: fossilworks.org,
  4. Shirkent II tracksite: fossilworks.org,
  5. Kharkush tracksite: fossilworks.org,
  6. Macropodosaurus: Wkipedia
  7. Therizinosauria: Wkipedia

[R3] Ammonites:

  1. General information:: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Wkipedia

[R4] Mammuthus meridionalis:

  1. General information:: Wkipedia prehistoric-wildlife.com
  2. Fossil discovery in Tajikistan: lenta.ru news-asia.ru




Acknowledgement:
  • Many thanks to paleontologist IVAN T. KUZMIN from Saint Petersburg State University for his help to find an information about Kansajsuchus extensus.
  • Many thanks to Vytautas Svarlis and Rezo Kaishauri from Stamperija's design team who provided me some technical details about this stamps and their design process.



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