Crocodilians: a once marvelously motley tribe of reptiles had dwindled
July 1, 2020 7:32 PM   Subscribe

In May 1997, the same month that The Lost World: Jurassic Park (trailer) debuted in the United States, the U.S. Postal Service released (Virtual Stamp Club) 15 stamps depicting various dinosaurs and extinct reptiles ( Except, as sharp-eyed paleontologist Christopher Brochu (Univ. of Iowa) noted, Goniopholis (Wikipedia) was actually based on the contemporary Nile crocodile (National Geographic). The Rise and Fall of the Living Fossil. The idea that some species are relics that have stopped evolving is finally going extinct. (Nautilus) Come for the re-consideration of ancient crocodilians and crocodyliforms, stay for the re-discovery of the "tame" desert crocodiles (Reptiles Magazine).
posted by filthy light thief (7 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Bonus oldweb link:, dedicated to identifying dinosaurs on stamps, from around the world.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:35 PM on July 1, 2020

Those last couple of links are fascinating. From the "re-discovery" link about splitting the Nile crocodile into two species: "Even more remarkably, these species are not each other's closest relatives; one is more closely-related to New World crocodilians." Loved the "Living Fossil" piece, too: all of today's crocs shared a common ancestor 8-13 million years ago! They're as modern as we are. I also never realised that "the ancestors of crocodiles were the most varied and dominant animals on the planet until a mysterious catastrophe about 200 million years ago killed many of them off, allowing dinosaurs to rise to prominence". Thanks, filthy light thief.
posted by rory at 12:57 AM on July 2, 2020

They even had different numbers of chromosomes.

Wow. There sure is a lot left to notice in the world, when we're sitting with a species with two different chromosome numbers.

Metafilter: MY complete listing of everything prehistoric.
posted by away for regrooving at 1:38 AM on July 2, 2020

I just want to say that I actually own these stamps. (And I don't really collect stamps.)
posted by of strange foe at 7:21 AM on July 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

So the crocodile deity Sobek was just some dude with a friendly crocodile sitting on his shoulder obscuring his face when they took the bas relief?
posted by scruss at 11:52 AM on July 2, 2020

Artist James Gurney has made a number of videos about painting dinosaurs, including this one about the artwork he did for these Australian stamps and this one that mentions ye olde crocodilians.
posted by smartyboots at 1:10 PM on July 2, 2020

I'm not a philatelist. But in drawer somewhere I have some adorable early 90s Canadian fossil/dinosaur stamps (1991 Prehistoric Life in Canada II, The Age of Primative Life). They were so pretty that I just never got around to mailing them.
posted by ovvl at 5:43 PM on July 2, 2020

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