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Homosexuality in the Animal Kingdom


iNow
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This thread is primarily in response to those who insist that homosexuality is an abomination, or that it harms peoples morals, or any of the other stupid nonsense people say after they've been poisoned by religious teachings. Also, it's just an interesting topic of conversation.

 

 

http://seedmagazine.com/news/2006/06/the_gay_animal_kingdom.php

Male big horn sheep live in what are often called "homosexual societies." They bond through genital licking and anal intercourse, which often ends in ejaculation. If a male sheep chooses to not have gay sex, it becomes a social outcast. Ironically, scientists call such straight-laced males "effeminate."

 

Giraffes have all-male orgies. So do bottlenose dolphins, killer whales, gray whales, and West Indian manatees. Japanese macaques, on the other hand, are ardent lesbians; the females enthusiastically mount each other. Bonobos, one of our closest primate relatives, are similar, except that their lesbian sexual encounters occur every two hours. Male bonobos engage in "penis fencing," which leads, surprisingly enough, to ejaculation. They also give each other genital massages.

 

As this list of activities suggests, having homosexual sex is the biological equivalent of apple pie: Everybody likes it. At last count, over 450 different vertebrate species could be beheaded in Saudi Arabia.

 

Thus, any distractions from the business of making babies—distractions like homosexuality, masturbation, etc.—are precious wastes of fluids. You'd think by now, several hundred million years after sex began, nature would have done away with such inefficiencies, and males and females would only act to maximize rates of sexual reproduction.

 

But the opposite has happened. Instead of copulation becoming more functional and straightforward, it has only gotten weirder as species have evolved—more sodomy and other frivolous pleasures that are useless for propagating the species. The more socially complex the animal, the more sexual "deviance" it exhibits. Look at primates: Compared to our closest relatives, contemporary, Westernized Homo sapiens are the staid ones.

 

Given the pervasive presence of homosexuality throughout the animal kingdom, same-sex partnering must be an adaptive trait that's been carefully preserved by natural selection. As Roughgarden points out, "a 'common genetic disease' is a contradiction in terms, and homosexuality is three to four orders of magnitude more common than true genetic diseases such as Huntington's disease."

 

 

Interesting. I never knew that more than 450 vertebrate species exhibited homosexual behavior. Gollly.

 

Wait... Did I say 450? I think I meant 1,500:

 

 

http://www.news-medical.net/?id=20718

"One fundamental premise in social debates has been that homosexuality is unnatural. This premise is wrong. Homosexuality is both common and highly essential in the lives of a number of species," explains Petter Boeckman, who is the academic advisor for the "Against Nature's Order?" exhibition.

Lions are also homosexual. Male lions often band together with their brothers to lead the pride. To ensure loyalty, they strengthen the bonds by often having sex with each other.

 

Homosexuality is also quite common among dolphins and killer whales. The pairing of males and females is fleeting, while between males, a pair can stay together for years. Homosexual sex between different species is not unusual either. Meetings between different dolphin species can be quite violent, but the tension is often broken by a "sex orgy".

 

Homosexuality is a social phenomenon and is most widespread among animals with a complex herd life.

 

Among the apes it is the females that create the continuity within the group. The social network is maintained not only by sharing food and the child rearing, but also by having sex. Among many of the female apes the sex organs swell up. So they rub their abdomens against each other," explains Petter Bockman and points out that animals have sex because they have the desire to, just like we humans.

 

Homosexual behaviour has been observed in 1,500 animal species.

 

"We're talking about everything from mammals to crabs and worms. The actual number is of course much higher. Among some animals homosexual behaviour is rare, some having sex with the same gender only a part of their life, while other animals, such as the dwarf chimpanzee, homosexuality is practiced throughout their lives."

 

Animals that live a completely homosexual life can also be found. This occurs especially among birds that will pair with one partner for life, which is the case with geese and ducks. Four to five percent of the couples are homosexual. Single females will lay eggs in a homosexual pair's nest. It has been observced that the homosexual couple are often better at raising the young than heterosexual couples.

 

Well, that's odd. The article suggested that homosexual animals might actually be better suited to raising offspring. That seems counter to all of the love and truth the religious people have been sharing with me. :rolleyes:

 

 

 

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/07/0722_040722_gayanimal.html

Porter, who first hit it big in the 1920s, wouldn't risk parading his homosexuality in public. In his day "the birds and the bees" generally meant only one thing—sex between a male and female.

 

But, actually, some same-sex birds do do it. So do beetles, sheep, fruit bats, dolphins, and orangutans. Zoologists are discovering that homosexual and bisexual activity is not unknown within the animal kingdom.

 

 

Roy and Silo, two male chinstrap penguins at New York's Central Park Zoo have been inseparable for six years now. They display classic pair-bonding behavior—entwining of necks, mutual preening, flipper flapping, and the rest. They also have sex, while ignoring potential female mates.

 

Wild birds exhibit similar behavior. There are male ostriches that only court their own gender, and pairs of male flamingos that mate, build nests, and even raise foster chicks.

Whether it's a good idea or not, it's hard not make comparisons between humans and other animals, especially primates. The fact that homosexuality does, after all, exist in the natural world is bound to be used against people who insist such behavior is unnatural.

 

In the U.S., in particular, the moral debate over this issue rages on. Many on the religious right regard homosexuality as a sin.

 

 

Even wiki has an entry:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_sexuality#Homosexual_behaviour

Homosexual behaviour has been observed among 1,500 species, and in 500 of those it is well documented.

 

To turn the approach on its head: No species has been found in which homosexual behaviour has not been shown to exist, with the exception of species that never have sex at all, such as sea urchins and aphis. Moreover, a part of the animal kingdom is hermaphroditic, truly bisexual. For them, homosexuality is not an issue.

 

 

 

This is wild stuff. It leaves me pondering the question... What is more wrong... Homosexuality in humans, or humans who refuse to accept it as natural?

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All I have to say is hooray for sex! I also find it odd that the religions of the God of Abraham, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, condemn sex out side of marriage or even for any reason other than procreation. It almost seems like God doesn't want anyone to have sex for any reason other than procreation and especially sex other than good old fashioned "man on top get it over with quick!" So sad, how much more popular would religion be if if Sunday go to meeting meant an orgy of pleasure!

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Four to five percent of the couples are homosexual. Single females will lay eggs in a homosexual pair's nest.

 

Awww :D

 

Evolution usually hijacks systems that are designed for one thing and presses them into service for another. Saves having to evolve from scratch I suppose, and allows multiple mechanisms and systems to 'share parts'.

 

So, I'm not suprised that something as old and important as sex gets pressed into service for, e.g., social bonding.

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...other than good old fashioned "man on top get it over with quick!" So sad...

 

Interestingly, the studies I've read suggest that animals which fornicate more frequently tend to get it over quickly. Mount, thrust, finish, all within just a few seconds. Whatever gets the job done, I suppose.

 

 

 

 

Evolution usually hijacks systems that are designed for one thing...

 

Interesting point. I was thinking about this more as an emergent phenomenon from existing functionality, but you're right about evolution "hijacking" other systems. As one of the articles I shared in the OP discusses, homosexuality is 3 to 4 orders of magnitude more common than other genetic issues described as "diseases" like Huntington's. It obviously has served a meaningful purpose for it to have survived and prospered as a trait for so long, and for it to be as common as it is.

Edited by iNow
multiple post merged
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Interestingly, the studies I've read suggest that animals which fornicate more frequently tend to get it over quickly. Mount, thrust, finish, all within just a few seconds. Whatever gets the job done, I suppose.

 

 

Oh now are you are going to say you can make love more than one time a night, braggart! Sex lasting for a few seconds, everyone knows it's just a half second or so :doh:

 

 

Interesting point. I was thinking about this more as an emergent phenomenon from existing functionality, but you're right about evolution "hijacking" other systems. As one of the articles I shared in the OP discusses, homosexuality is 3 to 4 orders of magnitude more common than other genetic issues described as "diseases" like Huntington's. It obviously has served a meaningful purpose for it to have survived and prospered as a trait for so long, and for it to be as common as it is.

 

I have long suspected the idea of Homosexuality or Heterosexuality as opposed to simply sexuality is a human construct that is meaningless everywhere but with humans. I would guess that in a totally natural state human sexuality comes much closer to what we see in Benobo chimps than what we see in Geese or even gorillas. In Benobo chimps even the children are included in sex play, I would guess that human desire to limit and or control sex play is part of the desire to control others. Controlling others by limiting pleasurable behavior would seem to be the first step in consolidating power. Limiting sex to those people who have agreed to allow others to control their behavior would seem to be a powerful way to influence the group and the social evolution of that group. Power and control takes many forms but control of sex would seem to be pretty basic.

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Interestingly, the studies I've read suggest that animals which fornicate more frequently tend to get it over quickly. Mount, thrust, finish, all within just a few seconds. Whatever gets the job done, I suppose.

 

That's because they can't lock the bedroom door, which leaves them vulnerable to interruption (i.e. by a predator).

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I did find humor in Skeptics question. I wonder why he chose not to ask if heterosexual marriage exists in the animal kingdom. I started picturing a two deer going into town hall asking for a marriage license, and the human beside them grinning and salivating as he filed for a hunting license. :doh:

 

The answer to his question is yes. There are species which mate monogamously with a same sex partner for life, and this was already covered in post #1.

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Just out of curiosity, is there "gay marriage" in the animal kingdom? Ie, species where there is (mostly) monogamous gay partnering for life?

 

Gay penguins have been observed pairing off and using a rock as a surrogate egg. I dunno whether or not that's included in the links provided in the OP, but I thought that was a striking case.

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Gay penguins have been observed pairing off and using a rock as a surrogate egg. I dunno whether or not that's included in the links provided in the OP, but I thought that was a striking case.

 

Yes, those are good ones. FWIW, this was discussed in the national geographic link and also shown as the first bullet point in the wiki link. :)

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Did you not read the OP, or the links it contained? I would presume not considering the question you asked.

 

Yes, I saw your zoo penguins, and I've seen them before this thread, but I don't know if penguins generally partner for life, or if the zoo conditions are close enough to natural. Some penguin types have thousands of penguins in one area, and I just don't think a zoo can do that.

 

To clarify, I am asking about species-wide behavior in the wild, not about individuals in an artificial environment.

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Yes, I saw your zoo penguins, and I've seen them before this thread, but I don't know if penguins generally partner for life, or if the zoo conditions are close enough to natural. Some penguin types have thousands of penguins in one area, and I just don't think a zoo can do that.

 

To clarify, I am asking about species-wide behavior in the wild, not about individuals in an artificial environment.

 

Wait, huh? You asked a question to which you already knew the answer was yes, then disregarded the examples given you in support of that affirmative response since you'd heard it previously elsewhere? What a strange approach to understanding the world you have. :confused:

 

Yes, penguins also do it in the wild, as do others. That's also covered in the links above, among others, but clearly we don't have a full catalog of the sexual behavior of every single species on the planet. Would you be willing to wager that more species other than penguins mate with a same sex partner for life? I know I would. Also, how does any of this really matter since monogamous life partnering is an outlier in the animal kingdom, and against evolved tendencies even in humans?

 

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality_in_animals

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Wait, huh? You asked a question to which you already knew the answer was yes, then disregarded the examples given you in support of that affirmative response since you'd heard it previously elsewhere? What a strange approach to understanding the world you have. :confused:

 

No, what a strange misunderstanding of me you have. Why would I ask a question if I already knew the answer? You would be less likely to make a fool of yourself if you assume I am intelligent rather than assume I am stupid. I asked a specific question that your links do not address.

 

 

I looked some stuff up myself, since you didn't provide the information.

http://www.antarctica.ac.uk/about_antarctica/wildlife/birds/penguins/chinstrap.php

"[Chinstrap penguins] nest on ice-free slopes with thousands of breeding pairs, sometimes with their closest relatives, Adélie and gentoo penguins."

 

A zoo cannot even come close to being a natural environment for breeding, as it is thousands of penguins short of that. Does it matter that the environment is not natural? I don't know. But if I told you that I saw a dog that salivates when you ring a bell, you wouldn't assume it applies in general to even some dogs in the wild, would you?

 

"They form a strong pair bond, returning each year to the same nest site with the same partner."

 

So chinstrap penguins are monogamous, but you and your links never said that. Other penguins, such as emperor penguins, can hardly be considered monogamous, which is why I was uncertain as to whether chinstrap penguins were monogamous. Since none of your links said anything about monogamous gay couples in the wild, none of your links answered my question about monogamous gay couples in the wild.

 

Yes, penguins also do it in the wild, as do others. That's also covered in the links above, among others, but clearly we don't have a full catalog of the sexual behavior of every single species on the planet.

 

Unless I fail at reading, none of those say anything about monogamous gay couples in the wild.

 

Would you be willing to wager that more species other than penguins mate with a same sex partner for life? I know I would.

 

To be honest, I expected someone to give me an example of one, not to tell me that I am dumb/dishonest to ask the question. Yes, I expect that penguins and others can have monogamous gay couples in the wild, but penguins in a zoo aren't a valid example. I asked because I wanted an example of "gay marriage" in the wild, for those who insist that only humans want gay marriage.

 

Also, how does any of this really matter since monogamous life partnering is an outlier in the animal kingdom, and against evolved tendencies even in humans?

 

That's why I said "(mostly) monogamous" since I don't expect there are any completely monogamous species (unless you count those that mate and die as monogamous). Why it matters is that it is the animal equivalent of "marriage".

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Well, you seem to be more interested in perpetuating an argument than getting an objective question answered, but I'll see what I can come up with.

 

The challenge, of course, is that we must first a) limit our population sample to only those animals which mate for life (a relatively small percentage), b) further limit sample to those which mate for life with same sex partners, and c) have been observerd and confirmed doing this in the wild. In short, I'm abundantly sure such data is out there, I just need to sift through the journals to find it... which is why the animals in a zoo provided a quick solution to the problem... they were available and met all of the above criteria, without the need for me to go on a wild goose chase like a little lap dog to satisfy your tangential inquiry.

 

But since you're just being "academic" and "curious," I'll try to oblige as those are commendable approaches to our lives with which I can easily align.

 

 

In the meantime, can you clarify who precisely insisted that "only humans want gay marriage" and where?

 

I asked because I wanted an example of "gay marriage" in the wild, for those who insist that only humans want gay marriage.

 

Then, if you'd further demonstrate how that is directly relevant to this specific thread in the Ecology forum, that'd be super nifty.

 

 

 

 

 

EDIT:

Unless I fail at reading, none of those say anything about monogamous gay couples in the wild.

 

 

Okay, it was far easier than I thought. You had me doubting myself, so I went back and re-read the articles, but I didn't even have to do that since I even quoted the relevant bit in post #1. Second link in the OP:

 

 

 

Animals that live a completely homosexual life can also be found. This occurs especially among birds that
will pair with one partner for life
, which is the case with geese and ducks.
Four to five percent of the couples are homosexual
.

 

 

 

I hate to point out the obvious, but it seems you did fail at reading. Can we move back into the thread now, and stop with the personal nonsense which distracts everyone, including you and I, from learning and progressing?

Edited by iNow
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For anyone curious about such lists, I just found a wiki on the topic. Pretty cool, really:

 

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_animals_displaying_homosexual_behavior

 

This list includes animals (birds, mammals, insects, fish, etc.) for which there is documented evidence of homosexual or transgender behavior of one or more of the following kinds: sex, courtship, affection, pair bonding, or parenting, as noted in researcher and author Bruce Bagemihl's 1999 book Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity.

 

Bagemihl writes that the presence of same-sex sexual behavior was not 'officially' observed on a large scale until the 1990s due to possible observer bias caused by social attitudes towards LGBT people making the homosexual theme taboo. Bagemihl devotes three chapters; Two Hundred Years at Looking at Homosexual Wildlife, Explaining (Away) Animal Homosexuality and Not For Breeding Only in his 1999 book Biological Exuberance to the "documentation of systematic prejudices" where he notes "the present ignorance of biology lies precisely in its single-minded attempt to find reproductive (or other) "explanations" for homosexuality, transgender, and non-procreative and alternative heterosexualities. Petter Bøckman, academic adviser for the Against Nature? exhibit states:

 

 

"[M]any researchers have described homosexuality as something altogether different from sex. They must realise that animals can have sex with who they will, when they will and without consideration to a researcher's ethical principles".

 

 

Homosexual behavior is widespread amongst social birds and mammals, particularly the sea mammals and the primates.

 

 

"No species has been found in which homosexual behaviour has not been shown to exist, with the exception of species that never have sex at all, such as sea urchins and aphis."

 

 

But dude, seriously, there's a pretty extensive list there at the link. Anyone so inclined or curious should really check it out.

 

 

In addition, here's a list just of mammals displaying homosexual behavior:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mammals_displaying_homosexual_behavior

 

A list just of birds displaying homosexual behavior:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_birds_displaying_homosexual_behavior

 

 

...and lists for reptiles, fish, amphibians, insects, and other invertabrates can all be seen in the original link at the top of this post:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_animals_displaying_homosexual_behavior

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i am fasinated.

Most every kid says being gay is stupid sick and wrong but truely being gay is more fundimental then being straight.

So this poses the qustion if god created the world why did he make them homo sexual if he does not want homosexuality. so then we wonder was god just really a legend. or just plain fiction. this could break so many religions that this could shake the worlds perspective. unless those who are so religious that they are complitley iggnorant to the idea of science. again this could change religion enitrley. I think i will talk to my parents about this after my sister heads upstairs.:D

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This is awesome. The Swedish Museum of Natural History is doing an exhibit called Rainbow Animals.

 

 

 

http://www.nrm.se/en/menu/visitthemuseum/exhibitions/rainbowanimals.6876_en.html

Rainbow Animals – homosexuality in the animal world

One sometimes hears arguments against human homosexuality on the grounds that it does not occur in nature among other animals. But is that really the case?

 

What is truly natural? Rainbow Animals is the first exhibition in the world to address those questions within the framework of a fascinating new area of biological study.

 

The exhibition includes a selection of more than 1500 different species for which homosexual behaviour has been documented. With the help of photos, model figures, texts, and animals from the museum collections, visitors will receive fascinating insights into a field of study that has never previously been the subject of such a scientific exhibition. They will encounter swans, dolphins, giraffes and other animals among which homosexual behaviour is common.

 

 

Webbild-Rainbow_st_eng.gif

 

 

 

I heard about it reading this:

 

http://pointlessanecdotes.blogspot.com/2008/12/having-gay-old-time.html

Our main target was the exhibition “Rainbow Animals” (yup, that's the original, “Swedish”, name of the exhibition) on homosexuality in non-human animals. They had a couple of (plastic) dolphin pairs in quite explicit positions, but generally the exhibits were just random stuffed animals and we had to contend ourselves with reading about their lascivious natures.

 

CIMG1017.JPG

 

 

 

h/t Aardvarchaeology

I am impressed by the gay dolphins' invention of nasal intercourse. To pull that off, one human would have to be hugely endowed in the nose department and the other very petite indeed elsewhere. I wonder what happens if you sneeze?

 

In the title of his entry, Kai reminds us of the Flintstones, who of course had a gay old time. Now, the bit that I've been wondering about is "they go down in history". On whom?

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I really must object to this ungodly talk about sex. It is quite clear from the following post that sex is not the issue.

Gay penguins have been observed pairing off and using a rock as a surrogate egg.
Sex is simply a substitute for the far more important life-issue of geology.
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This one is even better, found by iNow:

Animals that live a completely homosexual life can also be found. This occurs especially among birds that will pair with one partner for life, which is the case with geese and ducks. Four to five percent of the couples are homosexual. Single females will lay eggs in a homosexual pair's nest. It has been observced that the homosexual couple are often better at raising the young than heterosexual couples.

 

Let me paraphrase and anthropomophize. Geese and ducks practice "gay marriage" and the gay couples are given adoptive children to raise.

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Let me paraphrase and anthropomophize. Geese and ducks practice "gay marriage" and the gay couples are given adoptive children to raise.

 

And they're often better at raising the young than heterosexual couples. :)

 

 

You've still made me curious, Mr Skeptic. I am abundantly confident that there are more animals out there who pair bond for life with a same sex partner. Surely the phenomenon extends beyond just geese and ducks, and I want to know which other animals do it (that's part of what caused me to stuble on the wiki listing of gay animals which I shared in a previous post). Good thing I'm not a cat, or my curiousity would surely have killed me by now.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I thought this was interesting. It also adds data to the previous "birds only" homosexual pair bond examples we were using.

 

 

http://www.bidstrup.com/sodomy.htm

Same-Sex Pair Bonding in Animals

Just as in humans, animals often form long-term same-sex relationships. In species in which this normally occurs in heterosexual couples, that shouldn't come as a great surprise, but it does come as a surprise in species where heterosexual pair-bonds don't normally form for long if at all. This is true of bottlenose dolphins, which are not known to form heterosexual pair bonds, but which do in fact form homosexual pair bonds, including sex, and often lasting for life.

In animals in which "bachelor groups" form, such as bison, gazelles, antelope, sage grouse and Guinean cocks-of-the-rock, it is not uncommon for same sex pair bonds to form and last until one or the other member of the pair departs the relationship and breeds. It is also not uncommon for homosexual preference to form among members of such bachelor groups; when offered the opportunity to breed unencumbered with members of the opposite sex or the same sex, they choose the same sex.

 

The human pattern of bisexuality also appears in animals. In some cases, animals prefer same sex at one point in their lives, and change preference later. They may even change back and forth. In some cases, animals may seek sex with partners of either sex at random.

 

In animals with a seasonal breeding pattern, homosexuality can even be seasonal. Male walruses, for example, often form homosexual pair bonds and have sex with each other outside of the breeding season, but will revert to a heterosexual pattern during the normal breeding season.

 

 

Not At All Unusual

Lest you are tempted to believe that all of this is highly unusual and well out of the ordinary, you're in for quite a surprise. Homosexual behavior is not only common, but even more common in other species than in humans.

 

There's clearly a wide range of homosexual behaviors in the animal kingdom. It's widespread, common and impossible to deny or explain away any longer. Homosexuality is natural as green grass in summer, and it's high time we accepted that fact.

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