Great auk - the extinct bird that ‘flew’ underwater

State Darwin Museum

State Darwin Museum
Moscow, Russia

Great auks were a species of flightless birds that became extinct in the 19th century. They were common to the waters of the North Atlantic, spreading out as far as Spain, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Ireland, and Great Britain.

It was unable to fly and clumsy on land, but the great auk was a powerful swimmer, hunting fish and crustaceans.

While not closely related to the penguin, the great auk shared many traits with penguins. They mated for life, nested in vast, dense colonies, and laid a single egg.

The bird played an important role in Native American culture - it was used for food, in burial rituals, and possibly for clothing. In one burial site, more than 200 great auk beaks were found on top of a body - presumably part of a cloak made of great auk skins.


  • Title: Great auk - the extinct bird that ‘flew’ underwater

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