The Great Auk was a flightless bird known as one of the icons of extinction. while they are referred to as the original penguin due to their similar looking nature, they in fact had little or no correlation to them. The Great Auk was black and white, and stood on two legs. It also had a very large beak that distinguished it from other animals. Primarily, the Auk lived in the North Atlantic ocean. The bird would spend nearly a year out at sea and only return to shore in May to breed. Scientists are still unsure as to exactly what their purpose is to staying off of land for so long.
Extinction and how it happened
The only reason that the Great Auk became extinct was because of hunting. in the 1800's, the Great Auk was a high value target for fisherman. Since there were no laws at the time on the matter, it was free game for anybody wiling. On June 3, 1844, the last few were killed on the island of Edley, south of Iceland.
Bibliography: Fuller, Errol. The Great Auk: The Extinction of the Original Penguin. Hawkhurst: Bunker Hill, 2003. Print.