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Aves - Neognathae - Charadriiformes - Alcidae - Pinguinus - †Pinguinus impennis

Sternum (Breast Bone) of a †Pinguinus impennis (Great Auk)


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Species Description
The Great Auk was a small seabird, of the Charadriiformes, that lived on rocky islands in the North Atlantic. The Great Auk went extinct in the 19th century, after centuries of hunting by humans had reduced the last surviving populations. They were descended from Pliocene auks and the only members of the genus Pinguinus to survive to modern times; the Razorbill (Alca torda) is believed to be the Great Auk’s closest living relative. When originally discovered, auks were referred to as “penguins” (Portuguese/Spanish “pinguino”, Welsh “pingwen”); when explorers reached the Southern Hemisphere, they named the birds found there “penguins” after noting similarities with the auks.

Skeletal Elements Available

Right Tarsometatarsus (Right Fused Element Consisting of Ankle and Middle Foot Bones)

Left Tarsometatarsus (Left Fused Element Consisting of Ankle and Middle Foot Bones)

Sternum (Breast Bone)
External Links
Animal Diversity Web
Encyclopedia of Life
Wikipedia Great Auk Page

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