Thursday, July 18, 2013


This all started with this photo from a facebook post by Icelandic Weather Report:
It turns out that island in the distance is Eldey, where great auks had their last nesting ground. I checked Eldey in Wikipedia and found this:
The island formerly supported a large population of Great Auk after they moved there from Geirfuglasker following a volcanic eruption in 1830. When the colony was discovered in 1835, nearly fifty birds were counted. Museums, desiring the skins of the auk for preservation and display, quickly began collecting birds from the colony. The last pair, found incubating an egg, were killed there in July 1844, with Jón Brandsson and Sigurður Ísleifsson strangling the adults and Ketill Ketilsson smashing the egg with his boot.
Then I wrote on facebook:
I have a dim memory that this pair of birds was collected for the American Museum of Natural History, but I may be wrong. I wonder if we have enough genetic material to bring these animals back? It would not be easy. It would require a mother from a related species, and they are all considerably smaller. Worth a try, though. Along with mammoths and quaggas and the giant ground sloth... Dodos ought to be possible, though again the problem is the mother, as it is with the giant ground sloth... Moas?

I could write an Icelandic troll story. It turns out that trolls are still raising giant auks somewhere in the middle of Iceland, where no one goes, or maybe inside a cliff above the ocean... I wonder if they have to take the auks out swimming to keep them happy?

So one moonlit night an Icelander sees trolls wading out into the ocean, with auks on strings so they can't get away. But they can still frolic in the waves...
Most likely I won't write this story. I have six stories plus a novel to finish. But the same summer cabin fever that makes me so restless makes me want to start new writing.


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