1997 Ceratosaurus – The World of Dinosaurs
- Part of the 2nd US issue picturing dinosaurs (the first being the 1989 block of four)
- Showcases 1 of 8 dinosaurs from the Jurassic Period pictured on the souvenir sheet
Stamp Category: Commemorative
Value: 32¢, First Class Mail Rate
First Day of Issue: May 1, 1997
First Day City: Grand Junction, Colorado
Quantity Issued: 219,000,000
Printed by: Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd.
Printing Method: Offset
Format: Panes of 15 (Vertical and horizontal, laid out in 2 irregular groups, 8 in upper group, 7 in lower group)
Perforations: 11.1 x 11
Tagging: Two large tagging blocks, one over the top eight stamps and one over the bottom seven stamps. Tagging follows the odd shape of the perforations.
Why the stamp was issued: Issued in hopes of capturing the attention of young people with a subject they might find interesting.
About the stamp design: Stamp pictures artwork by James Gurney of Rhinebeck, New York (best known as the author and illustrator of the Dinotopia books).
First Day City: The World of Dinosaurs stamps were dedicated in a ceremony at the Museum of Western Colorado’s Dinosaur Valley Museum in Grand Junction, Colorado. Grand Junction is known as the “Dinosaur Triangle” of western Colorado and northeastern Utah. Many dinosaur fossils have been found in the area over the years.
Second Day Ceremony: The second-day ceremony was held on May 2nd at the Berger Dinosaur Hall of the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana. Consultant Jack Horner was the main speaker. Horner’s famous long-time rival, Dr. Robert Bakker, had attended the first-day ceremony, making one wonder if, perhaps, Horner had decided not to attend in order to avoid him.
About the World of Dinosaurs set: Originally to be four stamps, Gurney was later asked to do eight designs, then 10, and finally 15. This was partially inspired by complaints USPS had received in the past about wasting paper on big souvenir sheets. Gurney arranged the dinosaurs in two panoramic shots, one representing the Jurassic Period (150 million years ago) and the other representing the Cretaceous (75 million years ago). The artist consulted with famous dinosaur expert Jack Horner as well as Michael Brett-Surman of the Smithsonian, Ken Carpenter of the Denver Museum of Natural History, and Phil Currie of the Royal Tyrell Museum of Paleontology in Alberta, Canada.
In addition to offering suggestions for less-common dinosaur species, Gurney said “The scientists also provided me with lots of information about other creatures that would have shared the world with dinosaurs: frogs, turtles, insects, crocodiles, pterosaurs, mammals, and birds – as well as the plants: sequoias, cycads, tree ferns, and horsetails… Recreating the full texture of this environment was very important to me. Too often, illustrations give the impression that dinosaurs just trotted around on dry lakebeds looking grumpy while a volcano chugged away in the background. In fact, their world was a rich and diverse ecosystem. There were plenty of plants and animals that looked a lot like what you would find today in Florida.”
History the stamp represents: The terrifying Ceratosaurus was one of the meat-eating dinosaurs that lived during the long Mesozoic Era – also called the Age of Reptiles. Throughout this time, dinosaurs dominated the land, sea, and sky.
Fossil records reveal that thousands of different kinds of dinosaurs existed. They also show that some types lived during the entire 150 million years of the Mesozoic Era while others lived during only one or two of the periods into which the era is divided – the Triassic, the Jurassic, and the Cretaceous. Each period is defined by the dominant life forms which were present, as well as by the appearance of new ones, because the Mesozoic Era witnessed enormous changes on Earth.
Ceratosaurus lived during the Jurassic Period. As a meat eater, they belonged to a group called Theropoda, which means “beast footed.” They were large animals with short, muscular necks which supported their big heads. The jaws ran the length of the skull and were lined with huge, curved, serrated teeth. Their powerful hind legs and short forearms were armed with terrible claws – effective for hunting and eating. Like all theropods, Ceratosaurus walked on two legs, though probably not quickly due to their immense weight.