great auk(redirected from great auks)
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great auk:see aukauk
, common name for a member of the family Alcidae (alcid family), swimming and diving birds of the N Atlantic and Pacific, which includes the guillemots and puffins. Their legs are set far back on their bodies, making them clumsy on land, where they seldom venture except to
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(Pinguinus impennis), extinct flightless bird of the Alcidae family, close to the modern auk. Its body was up to 70 cm long; its wings were small and well-suited to paddling under water. It fed on fish.
The auk inhabited the Atlantic coast of Europe, North America, and Iceland. In the winter it apparently reached Florida and the Mediterranean Sea. It was hunted for its palatable meat, and in the 19th century it was completely destroyed. The last pair of great auks was killed in 1844 on the island of Elde, near Iceland.