The animal on the cover of Effective awk Programming, Fourth Edition, is a great auk, a powerful symbol of nineteenth-century European and American arrogance toward nature. In using great auks as food and for their oil, and later collecting specimens for the kind of trivial display so popular with the inhabitants of mansions in Victorian England, mankind showed no mercy. No care was taken to effectively manage the few delicate populations as sustainable resources, much less treat the great auk as a living species worthy of respect. In 1844, sailors working for a British collector killed the last two great auks and stole their incubating egg on an island off the coast of Iceland.
The original penguins, great auks were large, black and white, flightless seabirds with pronounced, bent, orange beaks. The auks nested for three to four weeks each spring on craggy islands in the North Atlantic. When not nesting with their lifelong mates, great auks swam the seas in extended-family groups, occasionally deep-sea diving for large fish. Sixteenth-century sailors who exploited nesting populations for food during long voyages called the birds penguins, a name they also gave to the smaller-beaked seabirds of the Southern Hemisphere that still exist today.
Many of the animals on O’Reilly covers are endangered; all of them are important to the world. To learn more about how you can help, go to http://animals.oreilly.com.
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