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 Australia 2008 "Megafauna"

Issue Date 01.10.2008
ID Michel:  Scott:  Stanley Gibbons: Yvert:  1328-1333, UPU:  Category: pR
Author Design & illustration - Peter Trusler
Product design - Adam Crapp, Australia Post Design Studio
Stamps in set 6
Value 55c Genyornis   
55c Diprotodon  
55c Thylacoleo        
55c Thylacine        
$1.10 Procoptodon goliah
$1.05 Megalania             
Size (width x height) Stamp sizes -.26mm x 37.5mm, 52mm x 37.5mm
Miniature sheet size -160mm x 90mm
Layout sheets of 50 stamps for all 55c stamp (10 stripes of 5 stamps)
sheets of 24 of $1.10 stamps
Products FDC x 2  MS x1 Gutter Pairs of 55c stamps x1 Booklet x1 PP x1s
Paper Tullis Russell
Perforation 14.6 x 13.86
Print Technique

Lithography

Printed by Energi Print
Quantity
Issuing Authority Australia Post

Megafauna on stamps of Australia 2008

This issue focuses on Australias megafauna an extraordinary range of giant creatures that roamed the Australian continent many thousands and even millions of years ago and became extinct between 20,000 and 50,000 years ago (with the exception of the Tasmanian Tiger). Many of these animals, including the marsupial lion and the large kangaroo, briefly co-existed with humans a
fact, some scientists hypothesise, that may have contributed to their extinction. Others hypothesise that climate change may have caused their extinction, although this argument does not account for the fact that megafaunal species survived two million years of climatic oscillations, including a number of arid glacial periods, before their sudden extinction.

Noted Australian artist Peter Trusler has a long and close working relationship with Professor Pat Vickers-Rich, the consulting palaeontologist on this stamp issue. In 1993 a similar collaboration occurred when Peter illustrated the stamp issue Australias Dinosaur Era and again in 2005 with Creatures of the Slime, the first living creatures.

Megafauna on stamps of Australia 2008
 

Genyornis
Genyornis on stamp of Australia 2008
Although resembling the emu and the cassowary, the Genyornis is not related
to them instead, it appears related to ducks, geese and swans. The carbon isotopes in the bones of Genyornis suggest that it ate perennials, shrubs and herbaceous plants. Emu and Genyornis egg-shells are commonly found together in sediments deposited up to 50,000 years ago, but younger dunes and sediments only contain emu egg-shells. The most complete remains found thus far have come from the Lake Callabonna salt pan in northern South
Australia, where an expedition from the South Australian Museum recovered complete skeletons in the late 1890s.
Diprotodon
Diprotodon on stamp of Australia 2008

Australias largest marsupial looks just like a giant wombat and was the  first fossil mammal from Australia to be given a scientific name in 1838 by Sir Richard Owen, a renowned British anatomist who described many of this continents fossil animals. The name means two forward teeth, referring to the two prominently projecting incisors in the lower jaw that point straight ahead. A reward was posted for the finding of a complete foot of this enigmatic pouched beast and it was not until 1892, at Lake Callabonna, that articulated skeletons, including complete feet and even trackways, were excavated. Diprotodon seemed to thrive on the grasslands and may have lived in small herds, but as aridity increased and water decreased they could not cope.

Procoptodon goliah 
Procoptodon goliah on stamp of Australia 2008

Procoptodon goliah was probably the largest of all kangaroos it stood
about 2.5 metres tall and weighed upwards of 200 kilograms. Experts see
Procoptodon as a grazer on resistant forage rather than a browser on soft
leaves. It had very long arms bearing two unusually long fingers on each hand, which some scientists think may have been for reaching high in vegetation such as blackoaks and sheoaks. Others suggest long arms more easily assisted locomotion on all fours in the grasslands. Its feet bore only a single toe, unlike todays kangaroos, which possess smaller side toes. 

Megalania
Megalania on stamp of Australia 2008

Megalania was arguably the top dog , the largest predator of the megafauna in Australia. It probably had similar predatory habits to the much smaller Komodo Dragon the largest living varanid lizard and known to have eaten people. The dragons are often outright scavengers, but can be efficient ambush predators, lying in wait along game trails for deer, pigs and even buffalo. Megalanias teeth are widely spaced and serrated at the rear, giving it a very formidable bite in contrast to unserrated teeth in other Varanus species.

Thylacoleo

Thylacoleo on stamp of Australia 2008

The marsupial, Thylacoleo carnifex, was  first described by Sir Richard Owen
in 1859 as the fellest and most destructive of predatory beasts. Few extinct
animals from Australia have aroused so much curiosity. Some say it was an
ef? cient carnivore, others an omnivore and still others, a fruit or egg eater! 
Thylacoleo harked from a possum ancestry and adaptations in its forelimb could
have been useful in manipulating prey. The Thylacoleo had shearing-like teeth
and front incisors, which could have been used as stabbing devices.

Thylacine

Thylacine on stamp of Australia 2008

The Thylacine has a long history in Australia, dating back to at least the
Miocene. Europeans first knew it as a living marsupial restricted to Tasmania, yet Thylacines had survived on mainland Australia until at least 3,300 years ago. The introduction of the dingo by humans pushed Thylacines to extinction on the
mainland. Actively hunted in Tasmania in the 1800s as sheep farming spread, the final living individual died in the Hobart Zoo in 1933. Although neither a wolf nor tiger, it was given its misleading name because it was dog-like and possessed stripes.


Products
FDC
Megafauna on FDC of Australia 2008 Megafauna on FDC of Australia 2008
Used Covers
Megafauna on used cover of Australia 2008 Megafauna on used cover of Australia 2008
Mini Sheets, original on the left and overprinted on the right side
Megafauna on mini sheet of Australia 2008 Megafauna on mini sheet of Australia 2008
Gutter Pairs
Megafauna on gutter pair stamps of Australia 2008

References
:     Stam Bulletin   Wikipedia  

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