Hall of Shame

What Happened to the Great Auk? Animal Hall of Shame

Enter the Animal Hall of Shame: What happened to the Great Auk? Enter the Animal Hall of Shame.

Enter the Animal Hall of Shame: What happened to the Great Auk? Enter the Animal Hall of Shame.

Here at the Platypus, we honour the traditions and beliefs of the animal kingdom. Namely that all animal life should be free from the threat of extinction. Extinction is the one, true greatest evil of all. There is no greater evil (except maybe Cats). So here, in the Animal Hall of Shame, we honour those animals whose lives have been snuffed out by the Homo Sh*tpiens.

What Happened to the Great Auk?
What Happened to the Great Auk?

What was a Great Auk?

The Great Auk (Pinguinus impennis) was a species of large flightless bird that went extinct in the mid-19th century. It was the only modern species in the genus Pinguinus. However, it is not closely related to the birds now commonly known as penguins. Penguins were discovered later and so named by sailors because of their striking physical resemblance to the Great Auk.

What did the Great Auk eat?

Their favourite prey were fish, including Atlantic menhaden and capelin, and crustaceans. Although agile in the water, they were surprisingly clumsy on land. Great Auk pairs were true romantics and mated for life. They nested in extremely dense and social colonies, laying one egg on bare rock.

What Happened to the Great Auk?

What happened to the Great Auk?

The Great Auk was a victim of human expansion. They had always been a food source for Great Apes. First for Neanderthals more than 100,000 years ago, as evidenced by well-cleaned bones found by their campfires. In addition, images depicting the Great Auk also were carved into the walls of the El Pendo Cave in Camargo, Spain, and Paglicci, Italy, more than 35,000 years ago. Great Auks were both a convenient food source and bait for fishing. As human populations exploded modern explorers offered a fresh new level of hell. Some of the later vessels anchored next to their colonies and ran out planks to the land. The sailors then herded hundreds of Great Auks onto the ships, where they were slaughtered.

Why did the Great Auk go extinct?

So humans could have slightly comfier sleep. No seriously, it wasn’t really for food it was all for a slightly better nights sleep.  By the mid-sixteenth century, the nesting colonies along the European side of the Atlantic were nearly all eliminated by humans killing this bird for its down, which was used to make pillows. This excessive hunting was the main cause of their extinction. The last two were taken at Eldey on 4 June 1844 when three Icelandic sailors, Sigurður Ísleifsson, Ketill Ketilsson and Jón Brandsson, were asked to collect a few specimens for the Danish natural history collector, Carl Siemsen.

Animal Hall of Shame

Did humans kill all the Great Auk?

Unfortunately for the humies, yes this one really is at their feet. Not only were they responsible but the fate of the last ever Great Auk was worse than all who had previously fallen. For three days, the sailors kept the last ever Great Auk alive, but on the fourth, during a terrible storm, the sailors grew fearful and superstitious. Condemning it as “a maelstrom-conjuring witch,” they stoned it to death.

What killed the Great Auk?

You guessed it, humans, humans and more humans.

Is the Great Auk still alive?

The Great Auk was a charming, penguin-like bird that swam the waters and waddled along the shores of the North Atlantic. But all because humans wanted a better nights sleep and got a bit hungry they wiped them out. The last time a Great Auk was seen alive was in 1852; today, only bones, preserved specimens and old stories remain. Some sightings on later dates have been claimed but these are likely hogwash, it’s more likely that you’d stumble across a secret Russian nuclear base than a colony of long lost Great Auk. There is an ongoing discussion on the internet about the possibilities for recreating the Great Auk using its DNA from specimens collected. This possibility is controversial and many birds have spoken out arguing that the Great Auk would likely rather remain extinct than be brought back by its Extinctioner.


What Happened to the Great Auk?
Humans happened to the Great Auk

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