In 1824 William Buckland, an eccentric clergyman and palaeontologist, produced the first scientific description of what became known as a dinosaur based on fragments of jaw and bone found in Oxfordshire. Buckland named the creature Megalosaurus, which means ‘great lizard’.
Early depictions showed an animal walking on four legs with a posture like a hippopotamus. Today we understand Megalosaurus was a theropod, a large bipedal predator that roamed Britain during the Middle Jurassic period 170 to 155 million years ago.
Along with specimens of Iguanodon and Hylaeosaurus, the fossilised remains of Megalosaurus led anatomist Richard Owen to conclude that all three belonged to a distinct group of reptiles, coining the term ‘Dinosauria’ to describe this new taxonomic group. His discovery fuelled public imagination and ‘dinomania’ shows no signs of abating today.
Featuring a design by palaeo-artist Robert Nicholls who specialises in producing anatomically accurate reconstructions of natural history specimens, this 50p coin was designed with the expert guidance of the Earth Sciences Department of the Natural History Museum. Available as a gold and silver Proof, colour-printed silver Proof, colour-printed Brilliant Uncirculated exclusive to The Royal Mint and standard Brilliant Uncirculated edition, it’s a fitting tribute to a landmark British discovery.
Limited Edition 50,000
In 1822, while travelling near Lewes, Sussex, Mary Mantell noticed a large tooth at the side of the road belonging to a previously unknown animal. Her husband, Dr Gideon Mantell, was struck by their similarity to those of an iguana, naming it Iguanodon in 1825.
Britain has a fascinating fossil record. Around 50–60 different species have been found here, including Hylaeosaurus, the first armoured dinosaur ever discovered. Together with Megalosaurus and Iguanodon, it played a crucial role in forming our understanding of these long-extinct creatures.