Tuesday 5 March 2024

The Age of Dinosaurs - set and miniature sheet: 12 March 2024

Ten years ago Royal Mail issued a set of stamps that had been postponed from 2012. The postponement was mainly because of the volume of stamps from the Olympics with the unexpected extras from the Paralympics. 

Originally coinciding with the centenary of the publication Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s dinosaur thriller, The Lost World, the 2013 issue date was then close to the BBC/20thC Fox movie production Walking With Dinosaurs.

2013 Dinosaurs set used on commercial covers.

In the write-up for that issue Royal Mail referred to the "strong regional connection with Dorset due mainly to discoveries by pioneering fossil hunter Mary Anning".  Few people outside Dorset and  palaeontology have even heard of Mary Anning, but this time Royal Mail make her the focus of the issue.

Dinosaurs 2024, two pairs of 1st class stamps

Royal Mail's write-up:

"The Mesozoic Era, or the ‘Age of the Dinosaurs’ as it is commonly known, lasted from 252 to 66 million years ago and comprises, in order from oldest to youngest, the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods. During most of this time, from the Late Triassic onwards, a group of reptiles known as dinosaurs dominated the land. Other non-dinosaur reptiles also thrived during this period, including marine reptiles, such as ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs, as well as the flying pterosaurs.

Fossilised remains help us to unearth the secrets of these incredible creatures, and one of the greatest fossil hunters of the 19th century was Mary Anning. Anning lived during a time when it was fashionable for wealthy Georgians to visit seaside towns to acquire fossils to add to their cabinets of curiosities. It was also when palaeontology was becoming recognised as a branch of the natural sciences. Anning spent her life unearthing ‘curios’ from the fossil-rich cliffs near her home in Lyme Regis, Dorset, to sell to tourists and scientific collectors alike, and made many important discoveries.

A fascination with prehistoric life continues today. Palaeontologists study all fossilised past life, including corals, fishes, mammals and plants, in addition to prehistoric reptiles. Fossils can help us not only to learn about the lives of these species, but to understand what the Earth was like in the past.

The set has once again been prepared in collaboration with the Natural History Museum in London, this time using scientists from six different palaeontological disciplines.

The new designs by digital illustrator Joshua Dunlop combine scientific accuracy with artistic brilliance in a captivating homage to the wonders of palaeontology, appealing to both stamp enthusiasts and dinosaur fans alike."

Details of the dinosaurs on the stamps are a the foot of the post.

Dinosaurs 2024, two pairs of £2 stamps

"The Miniature Sheet...

... is a tribute to Mary Anning who was one of the first professional fossil hunters.

Her discoveries of ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs and pterosaurs on the Dorset coast, near her home in Lyme Regis, paved the way for modern palaeontology and contributed to the understanding of prehistoric life on Earth. 

Each of her discoveries are presented within picture frames in the miniature sheet with captions written in microtext which can be read under a magnifying glass."

Dinosaurs miniature sheet publicity picture showing drawn-in perforations

Dinosaurs miniature sheet scan

The stamps individually

One of the 19th century’s greatest fossil hunters, Mary Anning made a series of incredible discoveries that helped the scientific community to better understand the remarkable creatures that inhabited Earth’s ancient seas and skies.

A complete fossilised juvenile skeleton of the marine reptile with coprolite remains inside the rib cage. Purchased from Mary Anning c.1835.

A near-complete Jurassic fish fossil, showing scale patterning and delicate fin structures. Collected by Mary Anning c.1829.

A near-complete fossilised juvenile skeleton of the marine reptile lacking parts of the tail. Collected by Mary Anning in 1830.

Technical Details

The 50 x 30 mm stamps were printed by Cartor Security Printers in lithography on gummed paper, perf 14. The design was by The Chase, with illustrations by Joshua Dunlop.

The 180 x 74 mm miniature sheet was printed by Cartor Security Printers in lithography on self-adhesive paper.  The Mary Anning and Dapedium stamps are 27 x 37 mm perf 14.  The Ichthyosaur is 27 x 27 mm perf 14.  The Pleiosaur is 35 mm square perf 14½.


Set of 8, miniature sheet, presentation pack, stamp cards, first day covers x2, press sheet of 12 miniature sheets (ediiton of 200 at £60 each).  T-Rex coin cover, framed set, framed T-Rex print.

Write-up of Sheet Stamps

1st - Tyrannosaurus was a fierce predator that belonged to a group of dinosaurs known as theropods. One of the largest meat-eating animals ever to live on land, Tyrannosaurus lived during the Late Cretaceous Period between 68 and 66 million years ago. The first known specimen was discovered in 1900 in Wyoming, USA.

1st - Triceratops was one of the biggest horned dinosaurs. It lived around 68 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous Period, alongside the likes of Tyrannosaurus. Triceratops weighed about 5 tonnes and measured up to 9m in length – its head alone was about as long as a person. It had a curved, bony frill jutting out over its neck and a hard beak at the end of its nose. The word Triceratops means ‘three-horned face’ – a reference to its impressive horns, which may have been used in defence against large meat eaters.

1st - Coloborhynchus was a type of pterosaur, a group of extinct flying reptiles that lived alongside the dinosaurs during the Mesozoic Era. Pterosaurs were the first vertebrates to achieve flight over 220 million years ago and included the largest flying creatures of all time. Coloborhynchus lived during the Early Cretaceous Period and was one of the earliest pterosaurs to be discovered.

1st - Iguanodon was a large ornithopod that lived during the Early Cretaceous Period between 125 and 110 million years ago. Reaching a length of about 10m, it was a very large dinosaur – longer than both Triceratops and Stegosaurus – and a herbivore that probably ate around 30kg of plants every day. It is thought that Iguanodon probably walked on both two and four legs. It was one of the most successful dinosaurs, with remains having been found in many parts of Europe. Iguanodon had a large thumb spike, which was probably used to fend off predators. It also had a very long finger that it used to gather food.

£2 - Stegosaurus belongs to a group of dinosaurs known as stegosaurs, which are defined by the bony armour plates or spines that extend along the back in two parallel rows. Despite being one of the most recognisable dinosaurs, we know relatively little about it, as remains of Stegosaurus are rare.

£2 - Diplodocus. One of the longest dinosaurs ever to have existed, Diplodocus was a long-necked prehistoric creature belonging to a group of dinosaurs called sauropods. It lived 150 million years ago at the end of the Jurassic Period. Reaching up to 27m in length, Diplodocus was a giant, weighing around 20 tonnes – as much as three male African elephants. It may have used its long neck to reach the tops of tall trees and its comb-like teeth to rake leaves into its mouth.

£2 - Megalosaurus was one of three species (along with Iguanodon and Hylaeosaurus) that led palaeontologist and anatomist Sir Richard Owen to coin the term ‘Dinosauria’ back in 1842, when he realised that all three creatures shared common characteristics and were their own distinct group of reptiles. His paper sparked a fascination with dinosaurs that continues today. It was William Buckland, a clergyman and palaeontologist, who, in 1824, named the creature Megalosaurus, which means ‘great lizard’. This was the first scientific description ever produced of what became known as a dinosaur. Megalosaurus was a large theropod that roamed what is now England during the Middle Jurassic Period between 170 and 155 million years ago. Growing up to 9m long, it was one of the largest predators of the Middle Jurassic.

£2 - Cryptoclidus was a type of plesiosaur – a group of extinct marine reptiles that existed from the Middle Triassic to the Late Cretaceous Periods. Some species reached 15m in length, although most were between 3m and 5m long. Plesiosaurs have been described as looking like a ‘snake threaded through a turtle’. Their limbs were large, well-developed paddles and it is thought that Cryptoclidus flapped these up and down in a similar way to a turtle. Plesiosaurs would have been found across the world, including in what is now Argentina, USA, Australia, France, Germany, China and Morocco. Many fossils have been found of Cryptoclidus, particularly from the Oxford Clay Formation in the UK, making it one of the best understood of all plesiosaurs.


  1. The miniature sheet looks nice. Not so sure about the rest of the issue. I will perhaps get some £2 stamps, but not many, considering the postage rate rise next month!

  2. It is particularly pleasing that Mary Anning gets a stamp to herself, rather than being merely featured as part of the 'surround' of the miniature sheet.

    Following on from the well-received Viking & Weather forecasting issues, this one reinforces that Royal Mail CAN still produce meaningful, quality products ... and there has arguably already been more wheat in 2024 than in several recent years, but still sure to be overwhelmed by the chaff yet to come.

  3. Kate Winslet played Mary Anning in the 2020 film "Ammonite"

  4. Yes, "it is particularly pleasing that Mary Anning gets a stamp to herself" but had she been born 200 years later and become famous as a pop singer she could have had a dozen stamps to herself !

  5. That's a really nice miniature sheet. My daughter's year 4 class have been learning about Mary Anning and her discoveries, and I accompanied their trip to the NHM - the sheet has clearly been inspired by their fossil gallery!


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