Latvia takes a rare delve into its prehistoric past with a Devonian tetrapod glow-in-the-dark silver coin

It’s unusual to see a prehistoric animal coin emanating from Eastern Europe, so we were pleasantly surprised to see this one turn up in todays Inbox. Latvia has a fine reputation for interesting contemporary design with its numismatic range and they’ve applied those talents to this new issue, and done so with a twist.

Ventastega is a stem tetrapod from the Devonian period (419.2 – 358.9 Mya), an amazing time which saw the explosion of life on land, particularly flora, but is primarily known for the incredible range of fish. This creatures fossils were first discovered in Latvia and have proven very useful in understanding the transition from fish to tetrapod. Only a metre in length, this predatory animal still spent almost its entire life in the water, with the leg adaptation coming about to enable better movement in river delta shallows.

The coin reverse face takes the sensible approach of replicating the look of Ventastega with just a lightweight level of detail, given actual details of its real look are limited (the fossil we used for our featured image above is not this animal). Instead of fine detail, they’ve joined the Austrian Mint is using glow-in-the-dark techniques to show the skeleton when the lights go out. While the former sticks to base metal coins, the Latvian Bank has used sterling silver for this one.

The obverse is more interesting, depicting the 350 million years since Ventastega existed as a series of concentric rings and dots. All together, quite a neat coin, if limited in detail by the luminescent coating. Available from next Tuesday (24th), it will sell for €48.00 and is limited to five per buyer. It’s struck by the Royal Dutch Mint, and was designed by artist Ivars Drulle.

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MINTS DESCRIPTION

On Tuesday, 24 November, Latvijas Banka is issuing a unique collector coin “Ventastega”, dedicated to the fossil remains of Ventastega curonica, a Devonian period animal, one of the most important discoveries in geology and palaeontology. The silver collector coin of Latvijas Banka is dedicated to an original and outstanding evidence of Latvian history providing an opportunity to learn about and understand the course of evolution, thus making the finding of Latvia’s scientists particularly important globally.

The fossil remains of Ventastega curonica were found at rock exposures in the Venta River basin near Skrunda in Kurzeme. The name of the species bears reference to the Venta and Kurzeme, and by this name this animal is recognised among scientists and prehistory enthusiasts all over the world. Ventastega was a four-legged predator, with its length slightly over one metre; it lived approximately 365 million years ago. At that time, the territory of the present-day Latvia was located some degrees to the South from the equator, at the south-eastern edge of the palaeocontinent of Euramerica.

Rocks and the fossils of animals and plants preserved in them are the only evidence from so ancient times. Just a few findings of Devonian tetrapod fossils are known today. Therefore, the findings of Latvian ventastega and the related lobe-finned fish are of considerable scientific importance in learning about the evolution of vertebrates.

This coin is special as the ventastega’s skeleton is marked with photo luminescent print. Keep the coin in direct bright light for at least 40 seconds; then look at it in the dark – ventastega’s skeleton will glow. The graphic design and plaster model of the collector coin was created by artist Ivars Drulle.

A tetrapod Ventastega curonica, coming out of shallow waters on land, is featured on the obverse; its skeleton is marked with photo luminescent print. The course of time over millions of years has been featured in a stylised manner as dots and lines, as well as 365 000 000, the number of years, has been arranged on the reverse.

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SPECIFICATION
DENOMINATION €5 Euro
COMPOSITION 0.925 silver
WEIGHT 22.0 grams
DIMENSIONS 35.0 mm
FINISH Proof
MODIFICATIONS Luminescent
MINTAGE 3,000
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes
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LATVIJAS BANKA