Archaeological finds of the great auk, Alca impennis, and the northern gannet, Sula bassana, from prehistoric and historic coastal sites around the British Isles show the earlier distribution of these birds. They suggest that the great auk bred more widely in the eastern Atlantic than on the few breeding sites which are attested historically. Comparison between the two species suggests that the method of exploitation as well as the biology and behaviour of each contributed to the extinction of the former and the survival of the latter.
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