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If you've ever seen a puffin, you probably thought it to be an aptly named bird; stout and thick with a regally heavy and colorful beak; tuxedo-black and white like a penguin's fluffier and more forward-leaning cousin, chest bowed out over orange legs to match that beak. So you'd think that puffinus puffinus was the scientific name of this bird, the puffin. But in fact the puffin is fratercula arctica, meaning brother (as in a brother in a monastic order, as they were thought by somebody to resemble short little monks) of the Arctic. And that puffinus puffinus? It's actually a sleek sea flyer by the common name of Manx Shearwater, which one would be forgiven for mistaking for a brownish sort of seagull. This bird was in the past called the Manks Puffin, not for its appearance in life, but for the fattiness of its meat, which was once popular in northern climes; the bird we modernly know as the Puffin (technically the Atlantic Puffin or the Common Puffin, though there is but one kind) happened to habitate the same locales, and unscrupulous meat sellers came to mark the meat of both birds indiscriminately. And so our popular modern-day puffin came to supplant the Manx Shearwater as the puffin of the public mind, though the slimmer seabird retained the twice-puffined scientific designation.


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FERRASSIC

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