The Great Auk was a flightless black and white bird a bit like a large Razorbill. The Great Auk inhabited the rocky coasts and islands of the North Atlantic along the East coast of the USA, Scotland, Shetland and Ireland to Greenland and Iceland, almost to the Arctic Circle. It was driven to extinction due to hunting in the 19th century. There are specimens of the bird and its eggs in many museums… including Kelvingrove in Glasgow and the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh (Z.1895.71).
To the left is the cover of a superb book by Errol Fuller entitled The “Great Auk” which gives much detail on the species.
One of the excellent images in the book is an oil painting by Errol Fuller himself entitled “A Last Stand” [from http://errolfuller.com/paintings/] …
Children’s book author and illustrator produced a wonderful book with artwork of the Great Auk and its demise. Available, for example, at Amazon.
An article on Jan Thornhill’s digital creation of the paintings is here.
Derek Robertson – Studies Of The Lost And Gone – Great Auk
In February 2020 Derek Robertson, a wildlife artist based in Fife Scotland, was part of a group of artists that visited the National Museum of Scotland’s ornithology collections facility at Granton. He painted two watercolours based on the Great Auk in their collection. These are part of his “Studies Of The Lost And Gone” (see https://www.creativepastures.com/testaments).
The museum visit and images of Derek Robertson’s sketches and paintings were covered in an article in Scottish Birds Volume 40(2) June 2020 pp.131-132.
An ‛Aukward’ Tale: A Genetic Approach to Discover the Whereabouts of the Last Great Auks
- Jessica E. Thomas, Gary R. Carvalho, James Haile, Michael D. Martin, Jose A. Samaniego Castruita, Jonas Niemann, Mikkel-Holger S. Sinding, Marcela Sandoval-Velasco, Nicolas J. Rawlence, Errol Fuller, Jon Fjeldså, Michael Hofreiter, John R. Stewart, M. Thomas P. Gilbert and Michael Knapp
- Genes 2017, 8(6), 164; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes8060164
- Online versions and PDF: http://www.mdpi.com/2073-4425/8/6/164
There have been suggestions of a “revival” of the species by The Long Now Foundation – Revive and Restore. See the following article from The Daily Telegraph (20 August 2016 – Page 3) …
National Museum of Scotland – Great Auk Specimen Z.1895.71