As Baillie searched for possible specimens of the Great Auk and Labrador Duck, he appealed to his weekly newspaper readership and his network of patrons for funding.
On July 26, [they] made the return trip to Toronto with two more inanimate passengers aboard--one Great Auk and one Labrador Duck.
acquired a Great Auk, a long-extinct Canadian bird previously represented in Canadian collections only by bones.
Although the Great Auk inhabited much of the northern Atlantic, there is evidence that prehistoric people had extirpated the species from many parts of its original range.
Because of the similarity, we had not questioned Breuil's 1912 remarks on the El Pendo engravings (later in Breuil 1952: 348) in calling one of the birds a pingouin, is a name we knew was usually but not always translated as Garefowl or Great Auk; and the bones of Great Auks are known from chronologically compatible Upper Palaeolithic levels.
Great Auks - `larger than a goose' (Grieve 1885), bearing great quantities of valuable fat as well as flesh and feathers, and thoroughly colonial - were easy to cull in such numbers as finally to exterminate the species.
The only factor in favour of reading the El Pendo engravings as Great Auks is their large size.
Identifying Great Auks and other birds in the Palaeolithic art of western Europe: a reply to d'Errico, Antiquity 68: 850-58.
Soon great auks
became a favorite food of New World sailors, who sometimes stretched a spare sail from ship to shore and simply herded the birds into an on-board butcher shop.
Furthermore, of the two anecdotal accounts the author cites regarding the wrong posture of the specimen, the first is too general for definite conclusions to be drawn, and the second is 20 years older than the death of the last pair of Great Auks.
When discussing the carving of a bird on the Raymonden baton, and on the walls of the Grotte de Gargas, my objective was to show that these were not Great Auks, not to identify the possible species represented.
In a recent article in ANTIQUITY, d'Errico (1994) discusses the painting depicting the Great Auk (Pinguinus impennis), recently discovered at the Grotte Cosquer (Alpes Maritimes, France) (Clottes et al.
In French, Great Auks and Razorbills are still pingouins, which is how the mistake in ANTIQUITY'S translation into English arose.
In short, the only figures reasonably identified as Great Auks are the one at El Pendo and the three at Cosquer, whose homogeneity of style and technique suggests they are contemporaneous.
Battles between Great Auks had to be impressive because of the birds' size.