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Great Auk

Great Auk
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Aves
Order:Charadriiformes
Family:Alcidae
Genus:Pinguinus
Species:impennis
Binomial name
Pinguinus impennis

At 75 centimetres, the flightless Great Auk (Alca impennis or Pinguinus impennis) was the largest of the auks. It was hunted for food and down for mattresses from at least the 8th century.

The Great Auk in early years was to be found on islands off eastern Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Scotland and Norway in great numbers, but it was eventually hunted to extinction the last pair was killed July 3, 1844 on an island off Iceland.

They were excellent swimmers, using their wings to swim underwater. Unlike other auks, however, the Great Auk could not fly, which is what made it so vulnerable to humans.

The Great Auk was the original source for the name "penguin". When explorers discovered similar birds in the southern hemisphere, the name was applied to them as well.

Great Auks laid only one egg each year.

See also:



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