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Great Auk (Pinguinis impennis)

The Great Auk (Pinguinus impennis) is an extinct flightless sea bird native to Iceland, Greenland, and the coasts of Canada, the UK, Norway, Ireland, the Faroe Islands, and some parts of Spain. It became extinct in the 19th century when the last two living specimens were killed on Eldy off the coast of Ireland. Despite appearances, it was not related to penguins, despite being the first bird to be called a "penguin". It was the second largest bird in its family (30 to 33 inches tall), only Miomancalla was larger. Northern auks tended to be larger than southern auks. It was an important part of Native American culture, both as a food source and as a symbolic item. Many people were buried with its bones, one was even buried beneath 200 auk beaks. However, demand for its down in Europe caused the Great auk to be over hunted, even after protection laws went into effect. As it only had one hatchling per year, it was unable to breed fast enough to replenish its population. There is a monument to the last Great auk located on Orkney in the UK.

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