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The Great Auk - a black and white bird standing with wings tucked in.


Glasgow Museums Resource Centre

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The great auk was a large flightless seabird standing about 75 centimetres tall. Its living relatives include the razorbill and the puffin. An excellent underwater swimmer it was capable of catching fast moving fish. The great auk became extinct in 1844 when the last one was killed on Eldey Island, Iceland. Once living in large numbers across the North Atlantic, about 80 preserved examples plus eggs and bones are all that now remains of this unfortunate bird. This history of this particular example can be traced back to about 1835 when it was in the possession of a Friedrich Schultz of Dresden. It was probably caught on Eldey Island.