The Great auk is a flightless bird that became extinct in the mid-19th century. It is not closely related to the birds now known as penguins, which were discovered later and so named by sailors because of their physical resemblance to the Great auk.
Great auks were powerful swimmers but clumsy on land. They formed pairs for life and bred in colonies on rocky, isolated islands with easy access to the ocean and a plentiful food supply. When not ...
breeding, they spent their time foraging in the waters of the North Atlantic.
The Great auk was an important part of many Native American cultures, both as a food source and as a symbolic item. Its down was in high demand in Europe, and European museums and private collectors were heavily obtaining skins and eggs of the bird.
On 3 June 1844, the last Great auk pair was killed on Eldey, off the coast of Iceland, ending the last known breeding attempt. A record of one Great auk in 1852 is considered to be the last sighting of a member of the species.