Encyclopedia > Great Auk

  Article Content

Great Auk

Great Auk
Scientific classification
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:

All Wikipedia text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

  Search Encyclopedia

Search over one million articles, find something about almost anything!
  Featured Article
Quioque, New York

... 11.00% African American, 1.00% Native American, 1.88% Asian, 0.00% Pacific Islander, 7.00% from other races, and 4.62% from two or more races. 14.38% of the population ...

This page was created in 24.7 ms