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OT: Polar seabirds (was Re: Gender Bending Moro)

From:Tim May <butsuri@...>
Date:Sunday, April 3, 2005, 23:18
Joe wrote at 2005-04-03 20:20:50 (+0100)
 > # 1 wrote:
 > > Joe wrote:
 > >> >>
 > >>
 > >> Just to say - Arctic flightless seabirds are Auks, Antarctic
 > >> ones Penguins.
 > >
 > >
 > > And my English-French dictionnary says "penguin" for both
 > > "manchot" AND "pingouin", says "auk" as second translation for
 > > "pingouin", and translates "auk" as "pingouin" AND "manchot",
 > > so...
 > >
 > >
 > > But I'm pretty well sure that some species of those in Arctic
 > > (whatever their name are :-)) fly, may it be for only 5-15 meters
 > > and that those in Antartica are flightless, are always very
 > > straight, and walk by balancing their weight on their feet (what
 > > makes them looking very funny!)
 > Correct you are - my mistake.  Auks can still fly, though their
 > wings are very short, and as such they have to flap very
 > quickly. The species I'm most familiar with is the Puffin, which
 > can by identified by its brightly coloured beak.

No doubt, Joe, you were thinking of the Great Auk (pinguinus
impennis), which was flightless and became extinct in the mid 19th
century.  The word "penguin" originally referred to the great auk,
according to my dictionary (note the name of the genus).

The word itself, with reference to auks, is of uncertain origin but
may be from Welsh _pen gwyn_ "white head", referring to a distinctive
white patch on the head of the bird.