|Great Auk||Season 2||Pavilion||KF3||Stage Play||Gallery|
“The name "penguin" was originally attributed to me. Now, that name has been inherited by the girls from PPP, as well as various other birds. Something like that has to make you happy, right? But I wonder what the name "penguin" is supposed to mean... I can't check? Why?”
—Great Auk's introduction
Great Auk is a type of extinct bird Friend.
She has long black hair with wing tufts on the sides of her hair and two white spots on the front fringe resembling the bird's face. She has small headwings and a ponytail tied together rather loosely by a white ribbon. Her eyes are deep purple. The ponytail resembles the bird's large beak. She wears a black turtleneck sweater on the sides, including the arms, with white on the front of the collar and shirt. She has a black tail, a white tutu, with leggings and strapped shoes in a very dark shade of brown.
In Real Life
The great auk is a species of bird famous as an example of extinction as a result of humans. The history of humans and the great auk goes back as far as 100,000 years ago, with evidence of consumption by Neanderthals, as well as cave paintings depicting the bird. More recently, the great auk had been seen as an important cultural symbol in Native American cultures, such as the Dorsel and Saqqaq peoples, who relied on it for food. A man was even found buried in a suit made of the skins of the great auk, with over 200 beaks still attached. However, overhunting of the species for its down, eggs, and meat led to a decline in the great auk population. While conservation efforts were made, including a punishment of whipping for stealing eggs, they were largely ineffective as the birds could often be found in remote locations where it would be unlikely for a poacher to be discovered.
In the years leading up to its extinction, the auk's rarity contributed to their rapid decline, as collectors and museums who wished to obtain specimens and eggs made the hunting of the birds wildly lucrative. The last great auk in Britain was captured in July 1840, then brutally killed three days later, as the sailors who captured it believed it to be a witch that was causing a storm that had appeared. The last known breeding pair was killed in 1844 by an especially spiteful trio of hunters, who even intentionally crushed the eggs they had laid. The last accepted sighting of a living great auk was in 1852, off the coast of Newfoundland. Today, the closest living relative of the great auk is the razorbill.
Great auks are often referred to as "the first penguin", though this is not technically correct, as the auk and penguins are not closely related. However, the name "penguin" is derived from Pinguinus, the generic name for the great auk, which is taken from the Spanish and Portuguese names from the bird - which were themselves taken from the Latin pinguis (plump). Upon the the discovery of what are now called penguins, early explorers assumed they were related to the great auk due to their similar appearance. As a result, both penguins and great auks were given the name of "penguin". Another common nickname for the bird was the "garefowl", from the Norse geirfugl, meaning "spearbird".
In life, the great auk inhabited the coastal waters of the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean Basin. The auk had very specific breeding and nesting requirements - rocky, sloped islands with easy access to the sea and an abundance of food. As a result, the bird had very few breeding colonies, with it believed that there were never more than 20 in existence. The auk was only ever known to leave the North Atlantic to perform these activities, and would even roost at sea. The hatchlings were said to be grey and downy, but no existing skins exist to allow this to be seen. It was believed that great auks mated for life.
Due to never being scientifically observed and described, the great auk's behaviors and traits are only known from secondary sources such as sailor's accounts and behaviors that can be inferred from the razorbill. It is believed that the great auk had few natural predators, and that those it did have were often ocean-dwelling, such as the orca. Polar bears were also believed to prey upon nesting colonies. The birds were unafraid of humans; only learning to be cautious around them once they were nearing extinction. The great auk had excellent mobility in the water, but had very limited mobility on land, which made them easy targets for hunters. It has been claimed that the auk was capable of diving up to a depth of 1 kilometer (3,300) feet and could breathe underwater for up to 15 minutes.
- The great auk went extinct before any scientific recordings of its call were made. However, fishermen of the time described the sound as resembling a cough.
- The American Ornithological Society uses a great auk as their symbol.
- During their lifetime, an islet formed of volcanic rock off the coast of Iceland was named Geirfuglasker (Great Auk Island), and was unreachable by humans, becoming one of the last bastions of the bird. However, in 1830, it was submerged by a volcanic eruption, forcing the birds to move to the nearby island of Eldey, where the last breeding pair would be killed.
- 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.
- Gaskell, Jeremy (2000). Who Killed the Great Auk?. Oxford University Press (USA). p. 152. ISBN 0-19-856478-3.
- Greenway, James C. (1967). Extinct and Vanishing Birds of the World (2nd ed.). New York: Dover Publications. ISBN 978-0-486-21869-4.