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May 20, 2011

Great Auk: largest of all auks (extinct since 1844)

The Great Auk was the only species in the genus Pinguinus, flightless giant auks from the Atlantic, to survive until recent times, but is extinct today. It was also known as garefowl, or penguin.

Standing about 75 centimetres or 30-34 inches high and weighing around 5 kg, the flightless Great Auk was the largest of the auks. It had white and glossy black feathers. In the past, the Great Auk was found in great numbers on islands off eastern Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Ireland and Great Britain, but it was eventually hunted to extinction. Remains found in Floridan middens suggest that at least occasionally, birds ventured that far south in winter as recently as in the 14th century. 


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