Auks are birds of the family Alcidae in the order Charadriiformes. They are superficially similar to penguins due to their black-and-white colours, their upright posture and some of their habits. Nevertheless they are not related to the penguins at all, but considered by some to be a product of moderate convergent evolution. (They are sometimes humorously cited as the explanation why penguins do not exist in the Northern Hemisphere.) In contrast to penguins, auks are able to fly (with the exception of the extinct Great Auk). They are good swimmers and divers, but their walking appears clumsy. Due to their short wings auks have to flap their wings very fast in order to fly. Auks live on the open sea. Only for breeding do they go ashore, although some species, like the Common Guillemot, spend a great part of the year defending their nesting spot from others.













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Several species have different names in Europe and North America. The guillemots of Europe are murres in North America, if they occur in both continents, and the Little Auk becomes the Dovekie. Some species, such as the Uria guillemots nest in large colonies on cliff edges,others, like the Cepphus guillemots breed in small groups on rocky coasts, and the puffins, auklets and some murrelets nest in burrows. All species except the Brachyramphus murrelets are colonial. Evolution and distribution: The earliest fossil auks are from the Miocene, 15 MYA, although some fossils from the Eocene (25 MYA) have tentitavely been placed as alcids. Miocene fossils have been found in both California and Maryland, but the greater diversity of fossils and tribes in the Pacific leads most scientists to conclude that it was there they first evolved, and it is in the Miocene Pacific that the first fossils of extant genera are found

The Above Images From U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
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