On some of our internal documentation Artists UK has sometimes abbreviated Artists UK to AUK but we are having some second thoughts about this since learning that the Great Auk was a large, flightless alcid that became extinct in the mid-19th century!
It lived in the North Atlantic, and bred on rocky, isolated islands with easy access to both the ocean and a plentiful food supply, a rarity in nature that provided only a few breeding sites for it. The Great Auk was 75 to 85 centimetres (30 to 33 in) tall and weighed around 5 kilograms (11 lb), making it the largest alcid. It had a black back and a white belly. The black beak was heavy and hooked with grooves on its surface. During summer, the Great Auk had a white patch over each eye. During winter, the auk lost this patch, instead developing a white band stretching between the eyes. The auk was a powerful swimmer, a trait that it used in hunting. Humans had hunted the Great Auk for more than 100,000 years, and by the 19th century, its growing rarity increased interest from European museums and private collectors in obtaining skins and eggs of the bird. The last two confirmed specimens were killed off the coast of Iceland on July 3, 1844. Hopefully, the Great Artists UK will survive rather longer than the poor Great Auk. More about the Great Auk here.