STL Science Center

STL Science Center

23 August 2016

Naturalists Missed It

There are countless mentions of Great Auks in historical accounts of the peoples of the northern Atlantic, but there is also specific mention of the fact that there are no accounts recorded by known naturalists. This fact is made evident in Bengston's 1984 article on anecdotes and conjectures that had been passed down over the ages about the large seabird. The extinction of the bird has not stopped research into the animal, its life history, or its genetic makeup. In fact, mitochondrial DNA has been explored and sequenced for the entire Alcid family specifically including Pinguinus impennis. Archaeological comparisons of nesting sites of the Great Auk and Gannets have been compared to ascertain how one group survived and the other went extinct. Though not an exact science, the comparison is logical and well thought out.

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