The Great Auk
Extinct: Around 1844
Location: Its last refuge was the island of Eldey off
Iceland but at one time it was widely distributed across
the North Atlantic.
Demise: Hunted. “Its last refuges were deliberately sought
out by seamen executing commissions for specimens from
private individuals and institutions”.. The last recorded
encounters offer a horrid list of “human ignorance and
The Glass Great Auk beaks are scaled from accurate
studies of the collections at the Zoology Museum,
The people of Lundy, off the Devon coast spoke of
“a garefowl, a murre so gigantic it was unable to fly,
carrying a beak huge & grotesque enough to make the bill
of its smaller relative, the razorbill, seem quite modest in
“The exact appearance of this beak in life is uncertain.
its colour in the living bird was never precisely or
unequivocally registered”. However it was “blackish in
appearance with varying numbers of grooves - as many as
12 or as little as 3” The number of grooves could be used
as an indication of the bird’s age.
"There is an certain natural elegance in the notion that -
during the breeding season the bill carried some white
striping (as it does in the Razorbill) but the certain truth
is that no-one really knows whether it did or not”
Smilodon Teeth (’Sabertooth Tiger’)
Extinct: Between 3M and 10,000 years ago.
These teeth were sculptured from accurate studies of the specimens within the Zoology and the Sedgewick Museums, Cambridge.
They have been cast in Glass using the lost-wax process and hand-ground & polished. They are spaced on their stands as they would have been on the skull.
Smilodon were about the same size as a full grown lion of today, but very different. The Sabertooth had very short extremely strong legs built for strength not speed. It was probably an ambush hunter, and would have attacked its prey from a hiding place, choosing larger animals. Scientists have been debating the use of the teeth, and why they had grown in this way.
Recent studies show that despite the size of its teeth, he actually had a relatively weak bite. The Ancient cat’s narrow jaw means it could only bite only at a third of the strength of a modern lion. But its powerful body and large claws meant it was able to wrestle its victim to the ground and sink its canines into the victim’s throat. By contrast, today’s Lions suffocate their prey maintaining a bite for several minutes.
Smilodon became extinct as a result of the environmental changes after the last ice age..