Like all animal groups, dinosaurs came in all shapes and sizes. Weighing just one kilogram and no larger than a chicken, Microraptor gui was the smallest of them all. Despite having wings and feathers, the subject of the tenth coin in the spectacular Supersaurs series was not a bird, but rather a true dinosaur dating from the early cretaceous period some 120 million years ago.
We know this because numerous well preserved Microraptor fossil specimens have been found in lakebed deposits in China’s Liaoning province. Preserved in mud, the dinosaur’s remains were protected from oxygen and scavengers and thus provided palaeontologists with a rare and fascinating glimpse of prehistoric life. Even the dinosaur’s feathers were clearly visible, forming a fringe around the skull, along the neck before merging into long wing feathers. The elongated long tail also culminated in a fan of feathers, two of which were particularly long. Microraptor gui is also one of the few dinosaurs of which the colour of the feathers can be gauged. Although it was not a bird, the Microraptor does, however, provide important evidence about the evolutionary relationship between birds and early dinosaurs.
On the right of the coin’s reverse, a colour-printed Microraptor gui is shown in a forest landscape, clawing at a tree trunk; on the left, a flying Microraptor chases a dragonfly. The coin’s obverse features all 12 prehistoric animals in the Supersaurs series in silhouette. All of the 3 euro coins in the series are legal tender in Austria.
Annotation: The images displayed are iconic photos.