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Happy Auk Extinction Day!

Yes, it’s hard to believe that just 165 years ago today we (by which I mean the human race; my ancestors were in the Pacific Northwest and have a pretty solid alibi) exterminated a species which had minimal food value and represented no threat. Quoth the wiki:

The last population lived on Geirfuglasker (“Great Auk Rock”) off Iceland. This island was a volcanic rock surrounded by cliffs which made it inaccessible to humans, but in 1830 the rock submerged, and the birds moved to the nearby island Eldey, which was accessible from a single side. When the colony was initially discovered in 1835, nearly fifty birds were present. Museums, desiring the skins of the auk for preservation and display, quickly began collecting birds from the colony. The last pair, found incubating an egg, were killed there on 3 July 1844, with Jón Brandsson and Sigurður Ísleifsson strangling the adults and Ketill Ketilsson smashing the egg with his boot.

I especially enjoy the juxtaposition with tomorrow’s holiday commemorating the best of what we are.

1 comment to Happy Auk Extinction Day!

  • RobynH

    I found about the Auk’s ending about a year ago.
    I don’t know why this specific story bothers me so much.

    But it does.

    Goodness knows I have seen and heard and read and known true stories of evil that bury this casual sadism lost and forgotten beneath piles of corpses stacked to the depths of human depravity.

    But I cry for two little goofy birds trying so hard to protect their egg.

    Times like these make me think in my most dark and depressing hours
    that the extinction of humankind might not be such a bad event after all.

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