3 euro - Ornithomimus velox – the fastest dinosaur
Series: Austria - Supersaurs
Our fascinating journey to the world of extreme dinosaurs draws to a close in the shape of Ornithomimus velox, the twelfth and final coin in the Supersaurs series. Ornithomimus velox is definitely a case of last but not least, however, given that it was the fastest dinosaur to have ever roamed the earth. Standing upright on long hind legs that ended in three powerful claws, and with a long, flexible neck and large eyes set in a small head, Ornithomimus velox bore some resemblance to the ostrich, albeit with a long tail and arms instead of wings. The dinosaur even had a toothless jaw that tapered into a beak. Weighing around 150 kilograms and measuring 4 metres from its beak to the tip of its long tail, Ornithomimus had lower legs that were significantly longer than its thighs, and elongated metatarsal bones, both typical characteristics of a fast runner. Computer models have calculated that Ornithomimus had a top speed of 60 to 80 kilometres per hour, but its powerful hind claws suggest that it was capable of defending itself and did not just use its speed to evade attack. Although the remains found to date cannot exactly substantiate Ornithomimus’ diet, the presence of small gastroliths – stones that birds and other animals swallow to grind food – in the epigastric region of some skeletons imply that it was a herbivore. Having said that, Ornithomimus could also have preyed on small reptiles and insects, another similarity with the ostrich, which despite having a predominantly plant-based diet and employing gastroliths, also eats caterpillars and grasshoppers. Ornithomimus velox features all 12 of the extreme prehistoric animals in the Supersaurs series in silhouette on its obverse, while a colour-printed Ornithomimus is shown moving through a grassy landscape on the coin’s glow-in-the-dark reverse. The 3 euro Supersaurs coins are legal tender in Austria.