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Homosexuality in the Animal Kingdom


iNow
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iNow; It's said 99+% of all species have become extinct, since complex life first appeared. It seems reasonable many have ceased existence on lifestyle for whatever purpose. Much of sub-complex life, where no sex is involved remain today pretty much as they existed for billions of years. We are complex...

 

I really don't like your analogy however, feeling many practices of other primates or animals in general would be destructive to the human race. Animals are extremely territorial for instance, which man has displayed over time including today, but unacceptable to the modern human.

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I really don't like your analogy however, feeling many practices of other primates or animals in general would be destructive to the human race.

 

Well, since my thread here was to demonstrate the inaccuracy of claims that homosexuality is unnatural, or that non-human animals don't pair bond for life with same sex partners and have homosexual sex with one another, your dislike is really moot. Plus, I offered no analogies, only data, so the points you raised your post are again completely irrelevant.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Firstly, don't assume homosexuality equals zero fitness. IIRC, lesbian swans mate with males, then raise the eggs together, so they pass on their genes quite well.

 

Secondly, evolution isn't perfect, and mutations which are less-fit show up all the time. Consider albino animals.

 

Finally, there may be an underlying selection pressure to maintain some low level of homosexuality, but until we can actually ID the genetic mechanisms at work, we can only speculate.

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So how does this all fit in with Darwin's theory of evolution?

 

Should we assume that there is something in these gay animal's genes that nature doesn't want to pass to other generations?

 

No, that would imply that you have a poor (and even inaccurate) understanding of the selection pressures at work, and how evolution by natural selection speaks to those pressures.

 

A more likely explanation would be that homosexuality is an emergent property of our overall sexuality, that non-procreative sexual behavior can decrease social tensions and lead to more pack/group-level cooperation (see data previously shared in thread regarding dolpins for one example), and that group behavior where members help raise offspring is sometimes favored over the individual behavior as pertains to creating vehicles to pass on genes.

 

I think where you are mistaken, jryan, is in your belief that homosexuality has no benefit to future generations, and I also think you have the mistaken belief that selection acts only at the level of the individual, instead of the larger group or society. Just some food for thought. If you'd like to ask specifically about any of the data shared in this thread, please do so. Folks like me and Mr Skeptic and others will certainly try to help aid and assist anywhere that you are struggling. :)

 

 

 

EDIT: Plus all of the things Mokele said. :D

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Setting aside the terms such as "likely" which are just rationalizations on your part, you and Mokele further stretch the very definition of gay and lesbian when you start talking about "lesbian" swans that procreate with males.

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Setting aside the terms such as "likely" which are just rationalizations on your part, you and Mokele further stretch the very definition of gay and lesbian when you start talking about "lesbian" swans that procreate with males.

No. Whether or not a person or animal reproduces at some arbitrary point in its life has absolutely nothing to do with its dominant sexuality.

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Setting aside the terms such as "likely" which are just rationalizations on your part

 

No, they're hypotheses. And that's all we have. If you want actual *answers*, you're going to have to wait until we actually locate the genes responsible.

 

you and Mokele further stretch the very definition of gay and lesbian when you start talking about "lesbian" swans that procreate with males.

 

"Gay" and "Lesbian" does not always mean "100% exclusive to the same sex", even in humans. Consider the Kinsey Scale.

 

Mokele

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Listen, jryan... I can see that this discussion upsets your worldview, and that you're not inclined to accept the data shared in this thread (despite it's vastness and accuracy).

 

Either way, though, the animals are engaged in homosexual behavior in nature, doing so exactly as it's defined in humans. I ask that you please read the links shared in this thread before commenting again, as your question/issue was already addressed by several of them (and it seems obvious that you are not willing to challenge any of them specifically).

 

Here's one example of how your question/issue has been addressed already by those sources.

 

 

Animal preference and motivation is always inferred from behavior. In wild animals, researchers will as a rule not be able to map the entire life of an individual, and must infer from frequency of single observations of behavior. The correct usage of the term homosexual is that an animal exhibits homosexual behavior, however this article conforms to the usage by modern research applying the term homosexuality to all sexual behavior (copulation, genital stimulation, mating games and sexual display behavior) between animals of the same sex. In most instances, it is presumed that the homosexual behavior is but part of the animals overall sexual behavioral repertoire, making the animal "bisexual" rather than "homosexual" as the terms are commonly understood in humans, but cases of clear homosexual preference and exclusive homosexual pairs are known (see examples for details).

 

 

Here are a few specific citations from which the above was drawn:

  • Bruce Bagemihl, Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity, St. Martin's Press, 1999; pp.122-166
  • Joan Roughgarden, Evolutions rainbow: Diversity, gender and sexuality in nature and people, University of California Press, Berkeley, 2004; pp.13-183
  • Vasey, Paul L. (1995), Homosexual behaviour in primates: A review of evidence and theory, International Journal of Primatology 16: p 173-204
  • Sommer, Volker & Paul L. Vasey (2006), Homosexual Behaviour in Animals, An Evolutionary Perspective. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. ISBN-10: 0521864461

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Listen, jryan... I can see that this discussion upsets your worldview, and that you're not inclined to accept the data shared in this thread (despite it's vastness and accuracy).

 

I have made no statement for or against this research other than the fact that "gay" or "lesbian" is an odd choice of terms if the "gay" and "lebian" geese have heterosexual sex.

 

Either way, though, the animals are engaged in homosexual behavior in nature, doing so exactly as it's defined in humans. I ask that you please read the links shared in this thread before commenting again, as your question/issue was already addressed by several of them (and it seems obvious that you are not willing to challenge any of them specifically).

 

Where did I ever state that I challenge ANY of them specifically? Or even the notion generally?

 

 

Here's one example of how your question/issue has been addressed already by those sources.

 

 

Animal preference and motivation is always inferred from behavior. In wild animals, researchers will as a rule not be able to map the entire life of an individual, and must infer from frequency of single observations of behavior. The correct usage of the term homosexual is that an animal exhibits homosexual behavior, however this article conforms to the usage by modern research applying the term homosexuality to all sexual behavior (copulation, genital stimulation, mating games and sexual display behavior) between animals of the same sex. In most instances, it is presumed that the homosexual behavior is but part of the animals overall sexual behavioral repertoire, making the animal "bisexual" rather than "homosexual" as the terms are commonly understood in humans, but cases of clear homosexual preference and exclusive homosexual pairs are known (see examples for details).

 

This isn't saying anything that I haven't already pointed out. Calling a bisexual animal "homosexual" or "lesbian" is simple politics and clearly inaccurate. True "homosexual" animals, not just one that includes "homosexual acts in it's repertoire", do not reproduce, and the genetics are not carried forward.

 

The problem is you have mistaken the adverb and the adjective. They are both 100% "homosexual"... ie. their is nothing heterosexual about a homosexual act, they are specifically and intentionally exclusionary. In that same way, "homosexual" animals and "heterosexual" animals lead very different

sexual lives.

 

Your initial post was decidedly political, and your comments there after, have been tainted with your politics more than they have been blessed by the science.

 

Also, to say "it happens in nature therefor its good!" is rather an absurd argument to make. I am working to help you make a better argument for your political case than one that would include blessing a woman for decapitating her lover after sex because "it happens in nature!".

 

It's like the "all natural" label on supposed health food. The same label would apply to a bottle of arsenic.

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I have made no statement for or against this research other than the fact that "gay" or "lesbian" is an odd choice of terms if the "gay" and "lebian" geese have heterosexual sex.

So, if I'm specifically with other males intimately and sexually for my entire life, as my primary sexual activity and social behavior, but have sex with a female once I'm no longer gay? Interesting take you have there.

 

 

 

Where did I ever state that I challenge ANY of them specifically?

You didn't, which was precisely my problem with your post.

 

 

Your initial post was decidedly political, and your comments there after, have been tainted with your politics more than they have been blessed by the science.

Okey dokey. My OP was intended to make a point using the science, which I've done. Not sure what your deal is, as you seem to be contrary here for little to no reason whatsoever.

 

 

Also, to say "it happens in nature therefor its good!" is rather an absurd argument to make.

That's what we would call a strawman of my actual position. Since it was not my argument, I'll leave it at that.

 

 

I am working to help you make a better argument for your political case than one that would include blessing a woman for decapitating her lover after sex because "it happens in nature!".

Okay, you seem not to have a clue what I'm saying. Let me summarize.

 

Person A: Homosexuality is unnatural. It's an abomination, and anyone who does it will burn for eternity in the devils fire. It's just not natural.

Me: It happens in nature all of the time, so your argument doesn't hold water. Here are over 1500 examples. In fact, there hasn't been a single species yet observed which has not also been observed to engage in homosexual behavior.

 

Does this clarify matters for you?

Edited by iNow
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In no particular order...

 

Originally Posted by jryan View Post

 

Also, to say "it happens in nature therefor its good!" is rather an absurd argument to make.

 

That's what we would call a strawman of my actual position. Since it was not my argument, I'll leave it at that.

 

Your very first line in this thread is as follows:

 

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.

 

My point was not a "straw man". Your whole point was that homosexuality is not an abomination, as some claim, because studies show that it happens in nature.

 

So that is the exact, and spruious, argument that you meant, or you had a poor choice of words.

 

 

 

Originally Posted by jryan View Post

 

Your initial post was decidedly political, and your comments there after, have been tainted with your politics more than they have been blessed by the science.

 

Okey dokey. My OP was intended to make a point using the science, which I've done. Not sure what your deal is, as you seem to be contrary here for little to no reason whatsoever.

 

No, you have intended to make a political point while misusing science.

 

So, if I'm specifically with other males intimately and sexually for my entire life, as my primary sexual activity and social behavior, but have sex with a female once I'm no longer gay? Interesting take you have there.

 

Not enough information exists in your "reductum ad absurdum" argument.

 

Okay, you seem not to have a clue what I'm saying. Let me summarize.

 

 

Person A: Homosexuality is unnatural. It's an abomination, and anyone who does it will burn for eternity in the devils fire. It's just not natural.

 

Me: It happens in nature all of the time, so your argument doesn't hold water. Here are over 1500 examples. In fact, there hasn't been a single species yet observed which has not also been observed to engage in homosexual behavior.

 

Does this clarify matters for you?

 

No, I understood you quite well. The problem was you stated your position poorly. You have now changed your initial statement and inserted a brand new "not natural" argument.

 

All you have adequately defended is the "not natural" argument, but you have failed to argue away the "abomination" argument.

 

Nature is full of actions that would be abominations if practiced by mankind.... and actually ARE abominations when practiced by mankind.

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Like I said, you are just being contrary for no particular reason. I did reference nature in the OP.

 

 

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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There is a difference between condemning homosexuality, accepting it as a natural part of a sexual society, and saying "it's good!"

 

The argument is not "it's good!" the argument is "it's perfectly normal", therefore NOT and abomination.

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I have made no statement for or against this research other than the fact that "gay" or "lesbian" is an odd choice of terms if the "gay" and "lebian" geese have heterosexual sex.

You have clearly never heard of the Kinsey Scale then, or the more recent Klein Grid.

 

I have to admit they are rather obscure tools for most every day purposes, so it is perhaps not surprising if you have never seen those before. However I find it amazing that in this day and age -- when sexuality is understood so much better than in the past -- there are still people frequenting science forums who appear oblivious to the sexual spectrum.

 

This isn't saying anything that I haven't already pointed out. Calling a bisexual animal "homosexual" or "lesbian" is simple politics and clearly inaccurate.

Sorry jryan, but this is demonstrably incorrect.

 

True "homosexual" animals, not just one that includes "homosexual acts in it's repertoire", do not reproduce, and the genetics are not carried forward.

Ah yes, the old "gays don't/can't breed" bollocks. We have been over that many times before.

 

If "true" homosexual animals existed as you define them they would have to stop existing at the next generation for your reasoning to be correct. The fact that there are any gay people/animals at all demonstrates that this is not the case. You have to redefine "homosexual" to a ridiculously absolutist degree in order to make that argument, and it still falls down because it breaks its own genetics.

 

As iNow said, someone who has homosexual relationships and/or sex their entire life does not stop being gay because they experimented as a teenager or had drunken sex with their rebounding housemate.

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You have clearly never heard of the Kinsey Scale then, or the more recent Klein Grid.

 

I have to admit they are rather obscure tools for most every day purposes, so it is perhaps not surprising if you have never seen those before. However I find it amazing that in this day and age -- when sexuality is understood so much better than in the past -- there are still people frequenting science forums who appear oblivious to the sexual spectrum.

 

Ugh, the level of defensiveness here is oppressive.

 

I am aware of the Klein scale. It is a handy tool for sociology, but you can't really mix sociology and genetics so easily any more than many here want to mix science and politics.

 

Any level of arbitrary labeling based on the Klein scale (as you and others are doing) is not particularly compelling.

 

 

Sorry jryan, but this is demonstrably incorrect.

 

Feel free to demostrate.

 

Ah yes, the old "gays don't/can't breed" bollocks. We have been over that many times before.

 

If "true" homosexual animals existed as you define them they would have to stop existing at the next generation for your reasoning to be correct. The fact that there are any gay people/animals at all demonstrates that this is not the case. You have to redefine "homosexual" to a ridiculously absolutist degree in order to make that argument, and it still falls down because it breaks its own genetics.

 

Bollocks. There are numerous genes in all animals that are not conducive to survival or procreation in general, and they continue to exist in the gene pool. Treating any genetic root for homosexuality as some alternate beneficial gene is pure politics just the same as claiming heterosexual genes as the only correct gene is purely a political statement, and not scientific.

 

 

As iNow said, someone who has homosexual relationships and/or sex their entire life does not stop being gay because they experimented as a teenager or had drunken sex with their rebounding housemate.

 

And I never said they do. I said that unless they have a child from that one night drunken fling their genetics are guaranteed to be tossed out of the gene pool. If you don't procreate, your unique genetic makeup is lost... how complicated is that for you people to understand?

 

It is the same for asexual animals (not animals that reproduce asexually), and animals that are heterosexual and happen to fail to procreate in their lifetime.

 

As I have said numerous times, my objection to iNow's original post (and it has nothing to do with my initial post.. which was simply a question) is that it is a great example of how far too many use science to push personal views.

 

Finally, on the "abomination" argument: That line of argument has no real end since the term "abomination" is subjective and can be neither proven nor disproved through the scientific method. Where it is used in "science" you will find politics.

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Bollocks. There are numerous genes in all animals that are not conducive to survival or procreation in general, and they continue to exist in the gene pool.

 

<...>

 

I said that unless they have a child from that one night drunken fling their genetics are guaranteed to be tossed out of the gene pool. If you don't procreate, your unique genetic makeup is lost... how complicated is that for you people to understand?

 

It is the same for asexual animals (not animals that reproduce asexually), and animals that are heterosexual and happen to fail to procreate in their lifetime.

 

Do you want to know why this is so easily demonstrated to be false? Because if what you say were true, homosexuality would not survive past 2 or 3 generations, yet it has and does. Case closed. What you are doing here is showing your ignorance on the topic of evolution, and it has zero to do with politics, no matter how many times you repeat yourself on that point. Simply repeating an invalid point over and over does not suddenly make it true.

 

 

As I have said numerous times, my objection to iNow's original post (and it has nothing to do with my initial post.. which was simply a question) is that it is a great example of how far too many use science to push personal views.

TBH, I really wish that more people would use science when forming and pushing their personal views, as the data is clear here.

 

 

Finally, on the "abomination" argument: That line of argument has no real end since the term "abomination" is subjective and can be neither proven nor disproved through the scientific method. Where it is used in "science" you will find politics.

My intention was never to counter the argument that it was an abomination, only to show how painfully stupid people using such an argument truly are.

 

Plus, it's just an interesting topic for discussion.

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Jryan, you just called half my point "bollocks" and then in the next breath stated exactly the same argument as your own using slightly different words. It may be time to take a step back, have yourself a couple of deep breaths, and reassess.

 

If I see two male swans rubbing each others necks and cooing over a rock, I am going to call them gay swans. I am not going to call them lefty liberal poster-children. Although I am acutely aware that there are certainly people who will use and exaggerate the existence of "gay" animals to forward their own political causes I do not think that was the intention of this thread, and I do not think that suspecting that motive is sufficient reason to ignore the literally vast data.

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  • 5 months later...

I thought this was interesting:

 

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/scienceandtechnology/science/sciencenews/5550488/Homosexual-behaviour-widespread-in-animals-according-to-new-study.html

The pairing of same sex couples had previously been observed in more than 1,000 species including penguins, dolphins and primates.

 

However, in the latest study the authors claim the phenomenon is not only widespread but part of a necessary biological adaptation for the survival of the species.

 

They found that on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, almost a third of the Laysan albatross population is raised by pairs of two females because of the shortage of males. Through these 'lesbian' unions, Laysan albatross are flourishing. Their existence had been dwindling before the adaptation was noticed.

 

Other species form same-sex bonds for other reasons, they found. Dolphins have been known engage in same-sex interactions to facilitate group bonding while male-male pairings in locusts killed off the weaker males.

 

A pair of "gay" penguins recently hatched an egg at a German zoo after being given the egg that had been rejected by its biological parents by keepers.

 

Writing in Trends in Ecology & Evolution, Dr Nathan Bailey, an evolutionary biologist at California University, said previous studies have failed to consider the evolutionary consequences of homosexuality.

 

He said same homosexual behaviour was often a product of natural selection to further the survival of the species.

 

Dr Bailey said: "It's clear same-sex sexual behaviour extends far beyond the well-known examples that dominate both the scientific and popular literature – for example, bonobos, dolphins, penguins and fruit flies.

 

"Same-sex behaviours – courtship, mounting or parenting – are traits that may have been shaped by natural selection, a basic mechanism of evolution that occurs over successive generations," he said.

 

"But our review of studies also suggests that these same-sex behaviours might act as selective forces in and of themselves."

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I've been frustrated over this notion for a long time....forget all the other aspects we know about homosexual.

 

This need to procreate? WHY?!? there are like what 7 billion of us and like 70% (or at least a majority) of these people average to lower intelligence who are consuming natural resources. Passing genes on only matter if you bring something beneficial.

 

Stupidity is a far worst problem than homosexual's not reproducing. I love gay people for this...They don't bring stupid people into this world. I hug every gay and lesbian I can.

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  • 1 month later...

Actually you are very correct. There are many species that perform homosexual acts. Its natural and should not be thought of as strange. I think Guinea Pigs do this too. I'd laugh if my Guinea pig went gay. HAHA. Anyways its natural for animals.

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A particular species of whip-tail lizards is all female and HAS to engage in lesbian sex to stimulate parthenogenic ovulation...

 

And the albatross thing works with male swans too... theyll pair up, knock up a female, then steal her eggs and raise them with a greater survival rate than heterosexual pairs... which was sorta glancingly mentioned in the first post...

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One thing that I find peculiar in terms of human sexual orientation, is that while female homosexuality, is more socially accepted, the rate of homosexuality is actually almost half of what it is in males. In this, female sexual orientation may be seen as more of a continuum process, due to greater bisexual tendencies in females than in males. I think that this may be attributed to certain deficiencies of key aspects for female social interaction, that decrease, as one moves further towards the male end of the spectrum, such as verbal fluency, and the like. Male homosexuality, I suppose could also be seen as a means, in the days of our more primitive ancestors to balance power, within our tribal, almost "herd- like" communities, such as in iNow's example with male lions, as well as a means for social cohesion and interaction.

 

In regards to hermaphrodism, I know that in the mollusca phylum, there are numerous species, that are exclusively hermaphroditic. From a selection perspective, this is obviously optimum, due to lack of selection pressures, in procreation.

 

Cool thread iNow! I for one, was pitiably unaware of the prevalence of homosexuality in the animal kingdom.

Edited by Theophrastus
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