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Previous Extinction 6 of 14 Next Extinction
Category Known By Museum Specimens

Great Auk
(Pinguinus impennis)

1 Great Auk
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2 Great Auk
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3 Great Auk
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4 Great Auk
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5 Great Auk
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6 Great Auk
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All images shown here are in the public domain because its copyright has expired.
(Unless otherwise stated)

Taxonomy & Status

Common Names

Great Auk

Conservation status

Extinct - Last seen 1852

Scientific classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Alcidae
Genus: Pinguinus
Species: P. impennis

Binomial/Trinomial name

Pinguinus impennis


Plautus impennis
Alca impennis

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Citation: Godino, F.M.J. (). Great Auk & .Downloaded on .
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Brief Summary

The Great Auk, Pinguinus impennis, formerly of the genus Alca, is a bird that became extinct in the mid-19th century. It was the only species in the genus Pinguinus - a group of birds that included several flightless giant auks from the Atlantic Ocean region - to survive until modern times. The Great Auk was also known as a garefowl (from the Old Norse geirfugl, meaning "spear-bird", referring to the shape of its beak) and penguin before the birds known by that name today were so called.

The Great Auk was found in great numbers on islands off eastern Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Ireland, and Great Britain before being hunted to extinction. Remains found in Florida suggest that, at least occasionally, the Great Auk ventured that far south in winter as recently as the 14th century.


The Great Auk was one of the many species originally described by Carolus Linnaeus in his 18th century work, Systema Naturae.

Analysis of mtDNA sequences have confirmed morphological and biogeographical studies in regarding the Razorbill as the Great Auk's closest living relative. They were also closely related to the Little Auk (Dovekie), which underwent a radically different evolution compared to Pinguinus. Due to its outward similarity to the Razorbill (apart from flightlessness and size), the Great Auk was often placed in the genus Alca. The name Alca is a Latin derivative of the Scandinavian word for razorbills and their relatives. The word impennis in Latin refers to the lack of flight feathers or pennae.

However, the fossil record, especially Pinguinus alfrednewtoni from the Early Pliocene Era Yorktown Formation of the Lee Creek Mine in the United States, and molecular evidence demonstrate that the three genera, while still closely related, diverged soon after their common ancestor, a bird probably similar to a stout Xantus's Murrelet, had spread to the coasts of the North Atlantic. By that time however, the murres, or Atlantic Guillemots, had apparently already split off from the other Atlantic alcids. Razorbill-like birds were common in the North Atlantic during the Pliocene, but the evolution of the Little Auk is sparsely documented.

The molecular data are compatible with either view, but the weight of evidence suggests placing the Great Auk in a distinct genus.

The Basque name for the Great Auk is "arponaz", and in early French, the name was "apponatz", both meaning "spearbill". The Norse called the Great Auk "geirfugl", which means "spearbird". This has led to an alternative common name for the bird, "garefowl". Spanish and Portuguese sailors called the bird "pingüinos". The Inuit (Eskimo) name for the Great Auk was "isarukitsck", which meant "little wing". The Welsh people referred to this species as "pingwen". When European explorers discovered what are today known as penguins in the Southern Hemisphere, they noticed their similar appearance to the Great Auk and named them after this bird.

Lithograph by E.A. Smith from Professor Richard Owen's Description of the Skeleton of the Great Auk or Garefowl (1865).


The Great Auk was found in the cold North Atlantic coastal waters along the coasts of Canada, the northeastern United States, Norway, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, and Great Britain. The Great Auk left the North Atlantic waters for land only in order to breed. The rookeries of the Great Auk were found from Baffin Bay down to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, across the far northern Atlantic, including Iceland, and in Norway and the British Isles in Europe. The Great Auk's nesting colonies required rocky islands with sloping shorelines to provide the birds access to the seashore. This was an extremely limiting factor and it is believed that the Great Auk may never have had more than 20 breeding colonies. Only eight breeding colonies are known: Papa Westray in the Orkney Islands, St. Kilda Island off Scotland, the Faeroe Islands between Iceland and Ireland, Grímsey Island and Eldey Island near Iceland, Penguin Island and Funk Island near Newfoundland, and the Bird Rocks (Rochers-aux-Oiseaux) in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.[16] Additionally, records suggest that this species may have bred on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. By the late 1700s and early 1800s, the living range of the Great Auk were restricted to Funk Island, Grimsey Island, Eldey Island, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and St. Kilda Island.

The Great Auk migrated south in the winter. Its bones have been found as far south as Florida and Gibraltar, while it frequented France, Spain, and even Italy in the Mediterranean Sea.

Distribution and habitat

© Great Auk breeding sites from Vanishing Birds: Their natural history and conservation (1978) by Tim Halliday.
Reproduced by kind permission of Tim Halliday.

Great Auks walked slowly and sometimes used their wings to help them traverse rough terrain. They had few natural predators, mainly large marine mammals (such as the walrus and the orca, and birds of prey, and the Great Auk had no innate fear of human beings. Polar bears preyed on nesting colonies of the auk. Their flightlessness and their awkwardness on land compounded their vulnerability to human beings, who hunted them for food, feathers, and as specimens for museums and private collections. The Great Auk reacted to noises, but were rarely scared by the sight of something. The Great Auks were believed to have had a life span of about 20 to 25 years.

The Great Auk was generally an excellent swimmer, using its wings to propel itself underwater. These great birds were capable of banking, veering, and turning underwater. The Great Auk was known to dive to depths of 76 metres (250 ft) and it has been claimed to be able to dive to 1 kilometre (3,300 ft). It could also hold its breath for 15 minutes, longer than a seal. The Great Auk was capable of swimming rapidly to gather speed, then shooting out of the water and landing on a rocky ledge not level with the ocean.

During the winter, the Great Auk migrated south either in pairs or in small groups, and never with the entire nesting colony.

The Diet of the Great Auk

This alcid typically fed in shoaling waters. Their main food was fish, usually 12 to 20 centimetres (4.7 to 7.9 in) in length, but occasionally up to half the bird's own length. Based on remains associated with Great Auk bones found on Funk Island and on ecological and morphological considerations, it seems that Atlantic menhaden and capelin were their favored prey. Other species suggested as potential prey include lumpsuckers, shorthorn sculpins, cod, and sand lance.

The young of the Great Auk are believed to have eaten plankton and, possibly, fish regurgitated by adult auks.


Egg of Great Auk, Ipswich Museum, England.
© Reproduced by kind permission of Sarah Hartwell.

Great Auks are believed to have mated for life. Once paired, they nested at the base of cliffs. The Great Auk laid only one egg each year between late May and early June. Both parents helped create a rough nest by raking guano together in a small mound, although it was also known to have incubated the egg on bare ground. Nests in the colonies were extremely close together. The eggs were pear-shaped and averaged 12.4 centimetres (4.9 in) in length and 7.6 centimetres (3.0 in) across at the widest point. The eggs were yellowish white to light ochre with a varying pattern of black, brown or greyish spots and lines which often congregated on the large end. The pair took turns incubating the egg for the six weeks before the egg hatched, typically in June.

The parents also took turns feeding their chick. At birth, the chick was covered with grey down. The young bird took only two or three weeks to mature enough to abandon the nest and land for the water.

Relationship with Human Beings

The Great Auk is known to have been preyed upon by Neanderthal men more than 100,000 years ago, since well-cleaned bones have been found by their campfires. Images of the Great Auk were also carved into the walls of the El Pinto Cave in Spain over 35,000 years ago, while cave paintings 20,000 years old have been found in France's Grotte Cosquer.

Native Americans valued the Great Auk as a food source during the winter. Images of the Great Auk have been found in bone necklaces. A person buried at the Maritime Archaic site at Port au Choix, Newfoundland, dating to about 2000 BC, seems to have been interred clothed in a suit made from more than 200 Great Auk skins, with the heads left attached as decoration. The extinct Beothuks of Newfoundland made pudding out of the auk's eggs.

Later, European sailors utilized the auks as a navigational beacon, as it was known that the presence of these birds signalled that the Grand Banks were near.

The Extinction of the Great Auk

This species is estimated to have had a maximum population in the millions, although some scientists dispute this estimation. The Great Auk was hunted on a significant scale for food, eggs, and its down feathers from at least the 8th century. Prior to that, hunting by local natives can be documented from Late Stone Age Scandinavia and Eastern North America, and from early 5th century Labrador where the bird seems to have occurred only as a straggler. Early explorers, including Jacques Cartier and numerous ships attempting to find gold on Baffin Island, were not provisioned with food for the journey home, and therefore they used this species as a handy food source. Some of the later vessels anchored next to a colony and ran out planks to the land. The sailors then herded hundreds of the Auks onto the ships, where they were then slaughtered.

The Little Ice Age may have reduced the population of the Great Auk, but massive exploitation for their down drastically reduced the population. By the mid-1500s, the nesting colonies along the European side of the Atlantic were nearly all eliminated by individuals killing this bird for its down, which was used to make pillows. In 1553, the auk received its first official protection, and in 1794 London banned the killing of this species for their feathers. On the North American side, eider down was initially preferred, but once the eiders were nearly driven to extinction in the 1770s, down collectors switched to the auk. Specimens of the Great Auk and its eggs became collectible and highly prized, and collecting of the eggs contributed to the demise of the species.

It was on the islet of Stac an Armin, St Kilda, Scotland, in July 1840, that the last great auk seen in the British Isles was caught and killed. A then 75-year-old inhabitant of St Kilda told Henry Evans, a frequent visitor to the archipelago, that he and his father-in-law with another man had caught a "garefowl", noticing its little wings and the large white spot on its head. They tied it up and kept it alive for three days, and then killed it by beating it with a stick, apparently because they believed it to be a witch. Eggers, individuals who visited the nesting sites of the Great Auk to collect their eggs, quickly realized that the birds did not all lay their eggs on the same day, so they could make return visits to the same breeding colony. Eggers only collected eggs without embryos growing inside of them and typically discarded the eggs with embryos.

The last colony of Great Auks lived on Geirfuglasker (the "Great Auk Rock") off Iceland. This islet was a volcanic rock surrounded by cliffs which made it inaccessible to humans, but in 1830 the islet submerged, and the birds moved to the nearby island of Eldey, which was accessible from a single side. When the colony was initially discovered in 1835, nearly fifty birds were present. Museums, desiring the skins of the auk for preservation and display, quickly began collecting birds from the colony. The last pair, found incubating an egg, were killed there in July 1844, with Jón Brandsson and Sigurður Ísleifsson strangling the adults and Ketill Ketilsson smashing the egg with his boot. However, a later claim of a live individual sighted in 1852 on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland has been accepted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).

Today, around 75 eggs of the Great Auk remain in museum collections, along with 24 complete skeletons and 79 mounted skins. While thousands of isolated bones have been collected from 19th century Funk Island to Neolithic middens, only a small number of complete skeletons exist.

Great Auk egg in the collection of Hon. John E. Thayer, Lancaster, Mass
From Great Auk eggs in the Thayer Museum.(Auk) Vol. 29, No. 2, April-June, 1912.

Photographed from the specimen in the Academy of Natural Science, Philadelphia not more than ten or twelve of these eggs are in this country; the one figured is one of the best marked specimens from The bird book : illustrating in natural colors more than seven hundred North American birds, also several hundred photographs of their nests and eggs (1914) by Chester Albert Reed (1876-1912).

In popular culture

* Charles Kingsley in the Water Babies has Tom meet the last Gairfowl on the Allalonestone who tells him the story of the end of the last colony on Gairfowlskerry and their final demise on Eldey.
* Penguin Island, a 1908 French satirical novel by the Nobel Prize winning author Anatole France, narrates the fictional history of a Great Auk population that is mistakenly baptized by a nearsighted missionary.
* The Great Auk is the subject of a novel, The Last Great Auk by Allen Eckert, which tells of the events leading to the extinction of the Great Auk as seen from the perspective of the last one alive.
* According to Homer Hickam's memoir, Rocket Boys, and its movie production, October Sky, the early rockets he and his friends built were named "Auk" along with a sequential numeration as an obvious display of irony.
* In the novel adaptation of the movie The Wicker Man by Robin Hardy & Anthony Shaffer, the (fictitious) Summerisle is revealed to be the home of a surviving colony of Great Auks.
* The Great Auk is a significant factor in the children's book The Island of Adventure by Enid Blyton. Jack is a keen ornithologist, and believes that the mysterious Island of Gloom may host a surviving Great Auk. This belief leads the children to the island, where they don't find a Great Auk but do find adventure.
* The Great Auk is a featured character and subject of the song "Dream too Far" in the ecological musical story, Rockford's Rock Opera.
* Farley Mowat told the story of the extinction of the Auk, in great detail, in the first chapter, "Spearbill", of his book Sea of Slaughter.
* The Great Auk is also the subject of a Ballet called Still Life at the Penguin Café.
* The Great Auk is the mascot of the Archmere Academy in Claymont, Delaware, Sir Sandford Fleming College in Ontario, and the Adelaide University Choral Society (AUCS) in Australia. It is also the mascot of the Knowledge Masters educational competition.
* Great Auk Cigarettes was a British cigarette company named after this bird.
* The Auk, the scientific journal of the American Ornithologists' Union, is named for this bird.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License; additional terms may apply. See Terms of Use for details.

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Video recordings

Audio recordings

Museum specimens records

NCB Naturalis, National Museum of Natural History, P.O. Box 9517, 2300 RA, Leiden, The Netherlands.

© Reproduced by kind permission of National Museum of Natural History Naturalis, Leiden, Netherlands.
Now part of NCB naturalis - Netherlands Centre for Biodiversity Naturalis

1.The Leiden Great Auk (Bird no. 57) RMNH 110.104: adult in summer plumage. Iceland?

Remark: Naturalis possesses a mounted specimen and an egg. The egg, from Newfoundland, was part of the collection of C.J. Temminck. The provenance of the mounted skin is unclear. It is either the specimen which the Amsterdam dealer G.A. Frank Sr. offered to the museum for 150 guilders on 19 April 1833 or the one sent to Leiden by Professor Reinhardt of the Royal Museum in Copenhagen in 1835. In either case, it probably originates from Eldey.The label of the specimen does not indicate the sex, which is not surprising. Sigrídur Thorláksdóttir, the Icelandic woman who skinned many of the Eldey Great Auks, stated that she did not bother to determine the sex of the animals when skinning them.

Temminck or his successor Schlegel must have obtained another specimen as well. On 30 April 1860, a Great Auk was exchanged with Frank for a collection of bird and mammal skins. By that time the species had become extinct and its value had greatly increased. It was now estimated at 220 guilders. Frank later sold the Leiden specimen to the Italian count Ercole Turati. After his death the skin went to the Museum of Milan.

© Reproduced "With the permission of the University of Amsterdam", Netherlands.
Now part of NCB naturalis - Netherlands Centre for Biodiversity Naturalis

2.The Amsterdam Great Auk (Bird no. 56) ZMA 3165: adult in summer plumage. Probably from Funk or Eldey Island ,Iceland?

Remark: Though a fine specimen, ZMA 3165 is one of the very few not depicted in Fuller (1999). Its origin is not quite known; it is sometimes said that the bird was obtained from the Amsterdam bird dealer G.A. Frank Sr. in 1843, but old inventories examined by the late K.H. Voous showed that the bird was already present in 1840, thus within two years after the foundation of the predecessor of the ZMA. In these years, skins and eggs reached collections in two ways, (1) from Iceland, sold by the dealer Brandt in Hamburg and obtained through Siemsen in Flensburg from Icelandic fishermen, (2) from Newfoundland, caught by French whalers and traded by French dealers. According to Voous (pers. comm.), the fact that the ZMA bird was skinned by cutting the body under the wing rather than over the mid-belly points to a Newfoundland origin, but this statement can not be verified without partly damaging the remaining specimens. Nevertheless, our bird could indeed have been bought from Frank, who sold several Great Auks to various collectors in the course of a few years from about 1835 onwards. Our egg was obtained from the RMNH/NNM in Leiden; both this egg and the single egg still present in Leiden were collected by French whalers along the east coast of North America in the early 19th century, thus probably from Funk Island off Newfoundland, where the last known large west Atlantic colony was situated. To complete the history of the Great Auk in the Netherlands: an unfossilized coracoid bone was found in 1981 in local Holocene sand deposits west of Rotterdam (Kompanje & Kerkhoff 1991).

Peabody Museum of Natural History - Yale University, 170 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, CT 06511-8902, United States.

Pinguinus impennis (Linnaeus, 1758)

*. YPM ORN 102689, skeleton (incomplete); SKELETON; Original catalog number Osteo 2340 (ORN.O.02340); collected in Georges Bank, Newfoundland by H. E. Gerrard.
*. YPM ORN 103044, skeleton (incomplete); SKELETON; Original catalog number Osteo 4421 (ORN.O.04421); collected in Georges Bank, Newfoundland by E. Gerrard.

Reference: Yale Peabody Museum - Ornithology - Online Catalog

Images Gallery
All images shown here are in the public domain because its copyright has expired.
(Unless otherwise stated)


1. © Great Auk from Vanishing Birds: Their natural history and conservation (1978) by Tim Halliday.
Reproduced by kind permission of Tim Halliday.


1. © Reproduced by kind permission of Ria Winters.


1. Great Auk (Pinguinus impennis).
© David Luce Art, Part of the Celebrity Extinctions series.

A last stand Oil on panel from Extinct Birds (Second Edition)
© Reproduced by kind permission of Errol Fuller (Artist)

Oeuvres complètes de Buffon, Volume XXVI.
By Georges Louis Leclerc comte de Buffon (1707-1788) and Frédéric Cuvier (1773-1838).
Published in 1831 by F.D. Pillot in Paris, France.

From Pantologia. A New (Cabinet) Encyclopedia,
By John Mason Good, O. Gregory, and N. Bosworth.
Assisted By Other Gentlemen Of Eminence.
Published in 1813

From Picturesque Dictionary of Natural History OR Dictionnaire Pittoresque d'Histoire Naturelle Paris.
By Felix Edouard Guerin-Meneville (1799-1874) (editor).
A. Carie Baron, Pedretti, du Casse, Adolphe Fries, de Sainson, Varin et al. (artists and engravers).
Published in 1836-1839

1 2 3

1. Two Great Auks with the island of Eldery in the background (Breeding (standing) and nonbreeding (swimming) plumage) by John Gerrard Keulemans.
2. Great Auks by John Gerrard Keulemans and commissioned by the 19th century ornithological writer H.E. Dresser.
3. The Great Auks at Home, oil on canvas by John Gerrard Keulemans.

1 2
3 4

5 6

1. Aquatint by John James Audubon from the world's most valuable illustrated book, The Birds of America (1827-38).
2. Aquatint by John James Audubon from The Birds of America. Philadelphia: John Bowen, First edition. Royal octavo edition (1840-44).
3. Great Auk feeding by John Gould from The Birds of Europe, vol. 5 pl. 55.(1832 - 1837)
4. Great Auk from The Birds of Europe, Plate 55, Volume 5, 1st Ed. (1832-1837) by Edward Lear, Circa 1830.
5. From a set of 30 collector cards from Tiere der Urwelt (Animals of the Prehistoric World) Series Ia (from a set inscribed 1916).
6. From "BIRDS OF NORTH AMERICA","Plate LXXV" written by Jacob H. Studer and artwork by Theodore Jasper (1878).

1 2 3 4
5 6 7

1. Unknown ?.
2. Unknown ?.
3. Unknown ? (c.1880).
4. From Pioneers in Canada By Sir Harry Johnston G.C.M.G., K.C.B.(1912).
5. Great Auk (Pinguinus impennis) from Rothschild, Lionel Walter Rothschild, baron, 1868-1937 / Extinct birds. An attempt to unite in one volume a short account of those birds which have become extinct in historical times--that is, within the last six or seven hundred years. To which are added a few which still exist, but are on the verge of extinction (1907).
Illustration by John Gerrard Keulemans (1842-1912): Dutch bird illustrator.

6. An engraving by C.B. Cory's "Beautiful and Curious Birds of the World" Part II (1881).
7. Great Auk from Illustrations of British Ornithology (1824-1834) by Prideaux John Selby .

1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9

1. "Penguin Articus. Le Penquin du Nord"; Tab. XLII by George Edwards from A Natural History of Uncommon Birds, Gleanings of Natural History, Seligmann Edition (Nuremburg) (1749-1776).
2. ?The Great Auk by Henrik Gronvold.
3. ?The Great Auk, watercolour by Archibald Thorburn.
4. ?The Great Auk surrounded by its true relatives, watercolour by Archibald Thorburn.
5. The Great auk by Professor William Macgillivray, Regius Professor of Natural History at Aberdeen, had produced a magnificent watercolour painting( was based on a preserved specimen belonging to the great American artist J.J. Audubon, a close friend of Macgillivray's) of the great auk (1839).
6. The Great Auk from Francis Orpen Morris British Birds (1891).
7. Rev. The Great Auk by Francis Orpen Morris from A History of British Birds. London: John C. Nimmo (1891).
8. Unfinished version ? of the previous drawings.
9. Great auk from The bird book : illustrating in natural colors more than seven hundred North American birds, also several hundred photographs of their nests and eggs (1914) by Chester Albert Reed (1876-1912).

1 2 3 4
5 6 7
8 9 10

1. Unknown ?.
2. Unknown ?.
3. The Great Auk by Alfred Edmund Brehm.
4. Engraving by F. Specht from The Great Auk from The Royal Natural History. Volume 4 by Richard Lydekker (1895).
5. The Great Auk from from 'A History of British Birds' by William Yarrell(1843).
6. From The Bird Study Book (Pen and ink drawings by Will Simmons) By T. Gilbert Pearson (1917).
7. Unknown ?
8. Engraving by George Edward Lodge from Birds (Arthur Humble Evans (author), George Edward Lodge (artist)) (The Cambridge Natural History), New York, London, MacMillan (1899).
9. Colour version of the above.
10. Great Auk From Cassell's Book Of Birds from The Text Of Dr. Brehm And By Thomas Rymer Jones Professor Of Natural History And Comparative Anatomy In King's College London Circa 1870.

Great Auk from plate "Ornithology. - VII. Swimming Birds"
from a late 19th-century natural history or encyclopedia published circa 1885.

i> © Great Auk from Vanishing Birds: Their natural history and conservation (1978) by Tim Halliday.
Reproduced by kind permission of Tim Halliday.

1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8

1. Unknown ?
2. Unknown ?
3. Unknown ?
4. Lithograph image as draw on site of a Great Auk on St Kilda.
5. From Game Birds, Wild-Fowl and Shore Birds of Massachusetts and Adjacent States, Massachusetts State Board Agriculture by Edward Howe Forbush (author and woodcuts) (1912).
6. From Le grand pingouin biographie by Henri Gourdin (1844).
7. From Illustrations of British Ornithology, Edinburgh by Prideaux John Selby (1824-1834).
8. A Copper Hand coloured engraving from The Natural History of British Birds by E. Donavan (1819).

An early figure of the Great Auk from "The English Pilot" (1742) first published 1702
From An Early Figure of the Great Auk.(Auk) Vol. 57, No. 1, January-March, 1940.

1 2

1. Engraving from Buffon's natural history (1792).
2. Unknown ?

Unknown ?

From Visitor's Guide to the Collection of birds. (1888)
American Museum of Natural History, Seventy-seventh Street and Eighth Avenue, New York City.

From Tableau encyclopédique et méthodique des trois règnes de la nature.
By par l'abbé Bonnaterre, et continuée par L.P. Vieillot.
Published by Chez Mme. veuve Agasse in Paris, France, 1823

1 2 3

1. From 'Eggs of American Birds', 25 Egg Studies, Natural History Photogravure From the Audubon Societies, Plate 1 (1917).
2 & 3. From History of British Birds with Coloured Illustrations of their Eggs by Henry Seebohm, published by R. H. Porter, London. (1885).

1 2

1&2. Color lithographs from the second edition of
Johann Friedrich Naumann's classic Naturgeschichte der Vögel Mitteleuropas
published by Gera-Untermhaus in 1896-1905.
The plates, which show birds in their natural setting, are by such artists as Keulemans , Göring, Geisler, and Kleinschmidt.

PDF Gallery

Please note that due to the size of some of the PDF files provided may take time to load.

PDF Links

* A general synopsis of birds, Volume III, Part I.
By John Latham.
Published in 1785. PDF abstract text

* Oeuvres complètes de Buffon, Volume XXVI. (In French)
By Georges Louis Leclerc comte de Buffon (1707-1788) and Frédéric Cuvier (1773-1838).

Published in 1831 by F.D. Pillot in Paris, France. PDF fulltext

* Abstract of Mr. J. Wolley's Researches in Iceland
respecting the Gare-fowl or Great Auk {Alca impennis, Linn.).
VOL. III. 1861. PDF fulltext

* Art. XII.—Notes on an Egg of Alca impennis, Linn., in the Collection of the writer.
Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New Zealand.
Volume 3, 1870 PDF fulltext

*On Existing Remains of the Gare-fowl (AIca impennis).
VOL. XXII. 1870. PDF fulltext

* Grieve on Remains of the Gare-fowl.
VOL. I. Fifth Series 1883. PDF fulltext

* Blasius on the Great Auk.
VOL. II. Fifth Series 1884. PDF fulltext

* Gray on Eggs of the Great Auk.
VOL. VI. Fourth Series 1882. PDF fulltext

* W. Blasius's second Paper on the Great Auk.
VOL. II. Fifth Series 1884. PDF fulltext

* Blasius's third Paper on the Great Auk.
VOL. III. Fifth Series 1885. PDF fulltext

* Great Auk Notes
Vol. 5, No. 3, July-September, 1888. PDF fulltext

* Testimony of some early voyagers on the Great Auk
Vol. 5, No. 4, October-December, 1888. PDF fulltext

* The Great Auk in the U. S. National Museum
Vol. 7, No. 2, April-June, 1890. PDF fulltext

* Lucas on an Expedition to Funk Island.
VOL. III. Sixth Series 1891.PDF fulltext

* An Egg of the Great Auk
Vol. 9, No. 2, April-June, 1892. PDF fulltext

* Lucas on Explorations in Labrador.
VOL. IV. Sixth Series 1892. PDF fulltext

* Milne- Edwards and Oustalet on recently extinct Birds.
VOL. VI. Sixth Series 1894. PDF fulltext

* Hartlaub on Birds recently Extinct or likely to become so.
VOL. II. Fourth Series 1896. PDF fulltext

* Catalogue of the Birds in the British Museum.
VOLUME XXVI, 1898 PDF abstract text

Being a Record of some Remarkable Extinct Species and a Plea for some Threatened Forms.
(1898). PDF abstract text

Being a Record of some Remarkable Extinct Species and a Plea for some Threatened Forms.
(1898) PDF book

* On the Orcadian Home of the Garefowl (Alca impennis).
VOL. IV. Seventh Series 1898. PDF fulltext

* On the finding of the bones of the Great Auk (Plautus Impennis) in Florida
Vol. 19, No. 3, July-September, 1902. PDF fulltext

* Blasius on the Great Auk.
VOL. IV. Eighth Series 1904. PDF fulltext

* The purchase of a Great Auk for the Thayer Museum at Lancaster, Mass.
Vol. 22, No. 3, July-September, 1905. PDF fulltext

* Newton's ' Oolheca Wolleyana.'
VOL. VI. Eighth Series 1906. PDF fulltext

* Brugger on Birds' Bones from the Norwegian Kitchen middens.
VOL. III. Ninth Series 1909. PDF fulltext

* Collett on the Great Auk in Norway.
VOL. III. Ninth Series 1909. PDF fulltext

* Parkin on the Great Auk.
VOL. VI. Ninth Series 1912. PDF fulltext

* Great Auk eggs in the Thayer Museum
Vol. 29, No. 2, April-June, 1912. PDF fulltext

* An Early Figure of the Great Auk
Vol. 57, No. 1, January-March, 1940. PDF fulltext

* Great Auk in the Isle of Man
Vol. 57, No. 4, October-December, 1940. PDF fulltext

* Great Auk Remains from a Florida Shell Midden
Volume 75, Number 2, April, 1958. PDF fulltext

* Great Auk and Common Murre from a Florida Midden
Volume 77, Number 3, July, 1960. PDF fulltext

* Pinguinus and Alle Validated as Generic Names for Great Auk and Dovekie Respectively
Vol. 91, No. 2, April-June, 1974. PDF fulltext

* An Attempt to Determine the Prey of the Great Auk (Pinguinus Impennis)
Volume 96, Number 4, October, 1979. PDF fulltext

* First Record of The Great Auk (Pinguinus Impennis) from Labrador
Vol. 99, No. 1, January-March, 1982. PDF fulltext

* Breeding ecology and extinction of the great auk (Pinguinus impennis): anecdotal evidence and conjectures
Vol. 101, No. 1, January-March, 1984. PDF fulltext


* BirdLife International 2008. Pinguinus impennis. In: IUCN 2009. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.2. <>. Downloaded on 26 February 2010.
* Cokinos, Christopher (2000). Hope is the Thing with Feathers: A Personal Chronicle of Vanished Birds. New York: Warner Books. ISBN 0-446-67749-3.
* Crofford, Emily (1989). Gone Forever: The Great Auk. New York: Crestwood House. ISBN 0-89686-459-6.
* Linnaeus, C (1758) (in Latin). Systema naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata.. Holmiae. (Laurentii Salvii).
* Gaskell, Jeremy (2001-03-15). Who Killed the Great Auk?. Oxford University Press (USA). ISBN 0198564783.
* Morris, Reverend Francis O. (1864). A History of British Birds. 6. Groombridge and Sons, Paternoster Way, London. pp. 56–58.
* uck, J. A. (1976): Ancient peoples of Port au Choix: The Excavation of an Archaic Indian Cemetery in Newfoundland. Newfoundland Social and Economic Studies 17.
* Greenway, James C., Jr. (1967): Great Auk. In: Extinct and Vanishing Birds of the World, 2nd edition: 271-291. Dover, New York. QL676.7.G7
* Gaskell, Jeremy (2000). Who Killed the Great Auk?. Oxford UP. p. 142. ISBN 9780198564782.
* Fuller, Errol (2003). The Great Auk: The Extinction of the Original Penguin. Bunker Hill Publishing. p. 34. ISBN
* Ellis, Richard (2004). No Turning Back: The Life and Death of Animal Species. New York: Harper Perennial. pp. 160. ISBN 0-06-055804-0.
* Luther, Dieter (1996): Riesenalk. In: Die ausgestorbenen Vögel der Welt, 4th edition (Die neue Brehm-Bücherei 424): 78–84. Westarp-Wissenschaften, Magdeburg; Spektrum, Heidelberg. ISBN 3-89432-213-6 [in German]
* Kingsley, Charles (1863), The Water-Babies, Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press, 1995, ISBN 0-19-282238-1
* Mowat, Farley (1986). Sea of Slaughter. New York: Bantam Books. pp. 406. ISBN 0-553-34269-X. chapter 1, pp 18-40
* Selected Poems. Faber and Faber. 1954
* Pancha Tantra, Taschen, 2009
* O’Sqweek". Adelaide University Choral Society.
* Jordan, Richard H. & Olson, Storrs L. (1982): First Record of the Great Auk (Pinguinus impennis) from Labrador. Auk 99(1): 167-168. PDF fulltext
* Olson, Storrs L; Swift, Camm C. & Mokhiber, Carmine (1979). "An Attempt to Determine the Prey of the Great Auk (Pinguinus impennis)" (pdf). Auk 96 (4): 790–792. Retrieved 2009-05-08.
* Meldegaard, Morten (1988) The Great Auk, Pinguinus impennis (L.) in Greenland. Historical Biology 1:145-178 PDF
* Livezey, Bradley C. (1988). "Morphometrics of flightlessness in the Alcidae" Auk (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press) 105 (4): 681–698. Retrieved 2009-05-08.
* Paul Johnsgard (1987) Diving Birds of North America University of Nebraska Press. (Appendix)
* Moum, Truls; Arnason, Ulfur & Árnason, Einar (2002). "Mitochondrial DNA Sequence Evolution and Phylogeny of the Atlantic Alcidae, Including the Extinct Great Auk (Pinguinus impennis)". Molecular Biology and Evolution (Oxford: Oxford University Press) 19 (9): 1434–1439. PMID 12200471. Retrieved 2009-05-08.
* Brodkorb, Pierce (1960). "Great Auk and Common Murre from a Florida Midden" Auk (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press) 77 (3): 342–343. Retrieved 2009-05-08.
* Weigel, Penelope Hermes (1958). "Great Auk Remains from a Florida Shell Midden" Auk (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press) 75 (2): 215–216. Retrieved 2009-05-08.

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