Canada recently announced it's getting rid of the penny, and now the country's mint is planning another trailblazing move in the history of coins: A glow-in-the-dark quarter.
The Royal Canadian Mint is planning to issue a special collector’s item 25-cent coin featuring the Pachyrhinosaurus lacustai, the first dinosaur discovered in northern Alberta, a region that would become one of the world’s hotbeds of dinosaur remains.
But you’ll want to be careful not to spend this quarter -- it will cost $29.95 when it goes on sale April 16, and only 25,000 coins will be minted.
But it’s what happens when the lights go out that makes the coin truly interesting. According to the Grande Prairie Herald-Tribune, Coin designer Julius T. Csotonyi infused the design with a photo-luminescent element so that, when the lights are on, a depiction of the dinosaur appears, but when the lights are off, the dinosaur’s skeleton glows in the dark.
“If you take it in a dark room all of [a] sudden this skeleton starts to glow,” says Al Lacusta, an Alberta school teacher who discovered the first fragment of the Pachyrhinosaurus back in 1974 during a walk along Pipestone Creek, near Grande Prairie, Alberta.
His discovery marked the starting point of a paleontological golden age in Alberta, during which dozens of new species of dinosaur were discovered in the province’s prairie soil.
Lacusta, for whom the dinosaur was named, told the press he never expected his find to have the sort of enormous impact it has.
“One find of just a few fragments of bone and for it to turn out to what we've got now -- it's really quite fantastic," Lacusta said, as quoted at HQGrandePrairie.com.
Lacusta told Postmedia News he hopes the dinosaur coin will help generate publicity for a dinosaur museum, near the site of the original dinosaur find, that has been struggling to find financing. The Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum, to be built near Pipestone Creek, is still $19 million of the $30 million needed for construction.
"To have this one put on a coin is really very timely, because we're trying to raise some funds for the new museum," Lakusta said, as quoted at Postmedia. "Hopefully, this will help."
This isn’t the first dinosaur coin the Royal Canadian Mint has issued -- though it is the first glow-in-the-dark one.
The Mint issued a four-dollar triceratops coin in 2008, and another four-dollar coin, of the Tyrannosaurus rex, in 2009. Since then, it has been steadily releasing dinosaur coins (see slideshow below). The Mint has also recently released a number of coins featuring more recent Canadian wildlife, such as a quarter featuring an orca, and another featuring a Peregrine falcon.
Check out these dinosaur coins from the Royal Canadian Mint.