2007 $4 .9999 Silver Coin: Dinosaur Fossils - Parasaurolophus
It is the discovery that sends hearts pounding -- and opens a window to the mystifying world of dinosaurs. Their fossilized bones testify to the massive beasts that once ruled the earth and then suddenly disappeared 65 million years ago. During the time of these great beasts, a great inland sea covered much of Western Canada and the area now known as Alberta and Saskatchewan was a lush, subtropical shore -- and home to over 35 known dinosaur species. As these animals died, the evolving landscape covered their bones with centuries of mud and sand -- only to be revealed when the glaciers from the last Ice Age scraped away the top layers of rock and exposed bits of fossilized bone. Discovered by paleontologists in the late 1800s, they inspired generations of dinosaur hunters and established Canada as one of the richest sources of Late Cretaceous fossils on earth.
Parasaurolophus was one of the 12 duck-billed dinosaurs that flourished throughout Alberta between 65 and 76 million years ago. It is easily identified by the 6-foot long crest curving out from the back of its head that paleontologists believe was used for communication -- an important capability for these rather docile herbivores that relied on their herds for protection. This distinctive-looking dinosaur was 9 m (30 ft) long and weighed 3,500 kg (7,700 lb).