Great auk. Illustration of the extinct great auk or garefowl, Pinguinus impennis. This excellent swimming and diving bird had lost the ability to fly. It was 78 centimetres long and weighed up to 5 kilogrammes. They were marine birds which fed exclusively from the ocean. Great auks, like their living relatives, were probably monogamous with both sexes sharing in the incubation and the rearing of the young. The great auk laid a large pear-shaped egg, 400 grams in weight. Due to the hunting by humans for its feathers and oil, as well as volcanic eruptions at its breeding grounds off the coast of Iceland, this species died out in about 1844. Image taken from an 1850s book.
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