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The Great Auk, or Garefowl (Alca impennis, Linn), its History, Archæology, and Remains

Naturevolume 32pages545546 (1885) | Download Citation



A GREEABLY to the wish of the editor of NATURE that I should notice in its pages the lately-published volume whose title stands above, I undertake a responsibility of a kind which is for me as delicate as can be imposed upon anybody. It has long been no secret that for more than five-and-twenty years-since, indeed, the premature death, in 1859, of my friend and fellow-traveller, the late Mr. JOHN WOLLEY—I have had it in hand to prepare and eventually to produce a monograph of the presumably extinct species of bird, into the investigation of whose history he had thrown himself with all the energy of his character. During that time I am not conscious of having ever lost an opportunity of adding to my store of information on the subject, in doing which I was for several years assisted by the zeal of the late Mr. G. D. Rowley; and, though always having in view the ultimate publication of the monograph originally contemplated by Mr. Wolley, I never hesitated to supply any inquirer with the particulars for which he asked-as may be seen on reference to the publications of Dr. Victor Fatio1 and of Prof. Wilhelm Blasius2—both of whom I rejoice to think I was able in some measure to help. Nevertheless, each attempt to elucidate the natural history of the Garefowl only added to the number of still unanswered or unanswerable questions relating to it; and, amid numerous other occupations or duties, I have with difficulty been able to keep myself abreast of the ever-increasing contributions to the subject—many (I may say most) of them proving on investigation to have little or no foundation; and those which had the least, or none at all, generally giving the greatest trouble.

The Great Auk, or Garefowl (Alca impennis, Linn.), its History, Archæology, and Remains.

By Symington Grieve, Edinburgh. 4to, pp. x. 141, and Appendix, pp. 58. (London: Jack, 1885.)

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  1. 1

    Bull. Soc. Orn. de la Suisse, ii. pt. 1, pp. 5–70, 73–85.

  2. 2

    Ver. f. Naturw. zu Braunschweig, iii. pp. 89–115; Journ. für Orn., 1884, pp. 58–176.

  3. 3

    Vidensk. Meddel. Naturh. Forening i Kjöbenhavn, 1855, pp. 33 to 118.

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