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Who Killed the Great Auk?

Who Killed the Great Auk?

Jeremy Gaskell

The Great Auk is one of the world's most famous extinct birds. This curious seabird was flightless, stood upright like a human, and sported an enormous beak. In this fascinating book, Jeremy A. Gaskell takes the reader on a tour of some of the wildest and coldest places on earth as he tries to uncover the facts behind its disappearance. Eyewitness accounts of the Great Auk spanning four centuries tell how it was hunted by sailors, coastal dwellers, and merchants for its ample flesh, its eggs, and its soft down. Gaskell shows how its fate was inextricably bound up with the prevailing social, economic, and political conditions of the late 18th century, and was also a result of widespread scientific misapprehensions. Many of the leading natural historians of the day took an active interest in the Great Auk and its disappearance, and the predicament of the Great Auk was partly responsible for the institution of the first seabird protection laws. Sadly, attempts to save it were in vain. This book tells why.

  • The first modern retelling of the extinction of the Great Auk.
  • Based on the contemporary eye-witness accounts of the Great Auk spanning four centuries and the wide expanse of the North Atlantic, the book unfolds as an ecological detective story.
  • Attractively illustrated including maps, photographs, line drawings, and an original colour frontispiece by artist Jan Wilczur.
  • Draws on material from previously unpublished sources.
  • The story features some of the greatest Victorian ornithologists and pioneers in conservation

192 pages.

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Hardback £58.00 £53.99

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