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Still continuing today, the youngest of all geologic periods, the Quaternary, features on the action-packed fifth and final coin in the Austrian Mint’s thrilling Prehistoric Life: Back from the Dead series. Not just the time when mammoths roamed the planet, the Quaternary is also the period when the most dangerous of all species – Homo sapiens – came into being.
Beginning 2.6 million ago, the Quaternary has been a period of extreme fluctuations in temperature. During the glaciations typical of the period, up to 30 per cent of the Earth’s surface was covered with ice and snow, but mammals such as the hippopotamus and woolly rhinoceros could be found in Europe during warm periods. Mammoths thrived during cold periods until they died out at the end of the last Ice Age, some 12,000 years ago. Both sides of the coin feature these large woolly mammals. A mammoth in profile dominates the background of the coin’s obverse, which also shows the skull and tusks of a mammoth next to the timeline linking the whole series. An Ice Age hunting scene shows Homo sapiens brandishing flaming torches and spears as they attack the giant beast on the coin’s reverse. (text: Austrian Mint)
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