Same-Sex Behavior Found in Nearly All Animals
posted: 16 June 2009 12:02 pm ET
Examples of same-sex behavior can be found in almost all species in the animal kingdom — from worms to frogs to birds — making the practice nearly universal among animals, according to a new review of research on the topic.
“It’s clear that same-sex sexual behavior extends far beyond the well-known examples that dominate both the scientific and popular literature: for example, bonobos, dolphins, penguins and fruit flies,” said Nathan Bailey, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Riverside.
Same-sex behaviors in different species are not all equivalent, the review finds. For instance, male fruit flies sometimes court other male flies, but this behavior is due to a missing gene that gives the flies the ability to distinguish between sexes, said Bailey, a co-author of the review. “That is very different from male bottlenose dolphins, who engage in same-sex interactions to facilitate group bonding, or female Laysan Albatross that can remain pair-bonded for life,” he added.
The review also found a gap in the literature: While many studies have tried to understand why same-sex coupling exists and why it might make sense in terms of evolution, few have looked at what the evolutionary consequences of this behavior might be.
“Like any other behavior that doesn’t lead directly to reproduction — such as aggression or altruism — same-sex behavior can have evolutionary consequences that are just now beginning to be considered,” Bailey said. “For example, male-male copulations in locusts can be costly for the mounted male” and this cost may put evolutionary pressure on the locusts, he said. As a result, a larger number of males may secrete a particular chemical that discourages the mounting behavior, he added.
In their future research, Bailey and Marlene Zuk, a biology professor at UCR, plan to try and address questions about the evolutionary outcomes of same-sex couplings, focusing on the Laysan Albatrosses.
The review article was published in the June 16 issue of the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution, and the study was funded by the UCR Academia Senate.
5 Myths About Gay People Debunked
Taken From LiveScience com
Animals Are All Straight
Male courtships are frequent amongst these long-necked mammals. Often a male will start necking with another before proceeding to mount him. This affectionate play can take up to an hour. According to one study, one in every 20 male giraffes will be found necking with another male at any instant. In many cases, homosexual activity is said to be more common than heterosexual.
Despite a popular perception that male-female pairings are the only “natural” way, the animal kingdom is actually full of examples of same-sex couples. Penguins, dolphins, bison, swans, giraffes and chimpanzees are just a few of the many species that sometimes pair up with same-sex partners.
Researchers are still mulling over the evolutionary reason, if any, for gay animal sex, since it doesn’t produce offspring. Some ideas are that it helps strengthen social bonds or encourages some individuals to focus their resources on nurturing their nieces and nephews, thus boosting their own genes indirectly.
Or, it may simply be fun. “Not every sexual act has a reproductive function,” said Janet Mann, a biologist at Georgetown University.
Gay Relationships Don’t Last
Another stereotype is that gay relationships aren’t as real or long-lasting as heterosexual ones.
Research has found that to be untrue. Long-term studies of gay couples indicate that their relationships are just as stable as straight pairings.
“There is considerable evidence that both lesbians and gay men want to be in strong, committed relationships [and] are successful in creating these partnerships, despite difficulties created by social prejudice, stigma, and the lack of legal recognition for same-sex relationships in most parts of the U.S.,” said UCLA psychologist Anne Peplau, co-author of a book chapter on the subject published in the 2007 Annual Review of Psychology.
For example, John Gottman, a University of Washington emeritus professor of psychology, and his colleagues collected data from homosexual couples across 12 years, and found that about 20 percent had broken up over that time. That rate projected over a 40-year period is slightly lower than the divorce rate for first marriages among heterosexual couples over the same time span, according to the study published in 2003 in the Journal of Homosexuality.
“The overall implication of this research is that we have to shake off all of the stereotypes of homosexual relationships and have more respect for them as committed relationships,” Gottman said.
In fact, the same study found that gay couples tend to be better at resolving conflicts and encouraging positive emotions.
Most Pedophiles Are Gay
An especially pernicious myth is that most adults who sexually abuse children are gay. A number of researchers have looked at this question to determine if homosexuals are more likely to be pedophiles than heterosexuals, and the data indicate that’s not the case.
For example, in a 1989 study led by Kurt Freund of the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry in Canada, scientists showed pictures of children to adult gay and straight males, and measured sexual arousal. Homosexual men reacted no more strongly to pictures of male children than heterosexual men reacted to pictures of female children.
A 1994 study, led by Carole Jenny of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, surveyed 269 cases of children who were sexually molested by adults. In 82 percent of cases, the alleged offender was a heterosexual partner of a close relative of the child, the researchers reported in the journal Pediatrics. In only two out of 269 cases, the offender was identified as being gay or lesbian.
“The empirical research does not show that gay or bisexual men are any more likely than heterosexual men to molest children,” wrote Gregory M. Herek, a professor of psychology at the University of California at Davis, on his Web site. Herek, who was not involved in the 1989 or 1994 studies, compiled a review of research on the topic.
Gay Parents Aren’t As Good As A Father And Mother
Many of those who oppose gay marriage and gay adoption charge that same-sex parents aren’t good for kids, and that a child needs both a father and a mother to grow up to be a healthy adult. Research, however, shows that children of gay parents tend to fare just fine.
For example, one recent study looked at nearly 90 teens, half living with female same-sex couples and the others with heterosexual couples, showing that both groups fared similarly in school. Teen boys in same-sex households had grade point averages of about 2.9, compared with 2.65 for their counterparts in heterosexual homes. Teen girls showed similar results, with a 2.8 for same-sex households and 2.9 for girls in heterosexual families.
Another study found that kids with two moms or two dads were no more likely than their counterparts in “traditional” homes to engage in delinquent activities, such as damaging others’ property, shoplifting and getting into fights.
“The bottom line is that the science shows that children raised by two same-gender parents do as well on average as children raised by two different-gender parents,” said Timothy Biblarz, a sociologist at the University of Southern California. “This is obviously inconsistent with the widespread claim that children must be raised by a mother and a father to do well.”
Both studies were described in a literature review paper published in February 2010 in the Journal of Marriage and Family.
Being Gay Is A Choice
The mystery DNA spippets are about 300 times less likely than other regions of the genome to be lost during the course of mammalian evolution.
While some claim that being gay is a choice, or that homosexuality can be cured, evidence is mounting that same-sex attraction is at least partly genetic and biologically based.
To test whether genes play a role, researchers have compared identical twins (in which all genes are shared) to fraternal twins (in which about 50 percent of genes are shared). A 2001 review of such twin studies reported that almost all found identical twins were significantly more likely to share a sexual orientation – that is, to be either both gay, or both straight – than fraternal twins, who are less genetically close. Such findings indicate that genes do factor into a person’s orientation.
Other studies have found that biological effects, such as hormone exposure in the womb, can also play a role in shaping sexual orientation. And findings of physiological differences, such as different inner ear shapes between homosexual and heterosexual women, contribute to this idea.
“The results support the theory that differences in the central nervous system exist between homosexual and heterosexual individuals and that the differences are possibly related to early factors in brain development,” said Sandra Witelson of McMaster University in Ontario, an author on the 1998 inner ear finding published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Life is good. I know that because our beagles remind me every morning when I wake up.
My partner and I sleep the sleep of angels every night and the beagles watch over us.
There is Patty, the largest of the pack at about 50 pounds. She is a Beagle/Spaniel mix and she is 7 years old now. Her size is misleading because she is actually the gentlest of the pack also.
Then there is Lucy, the next largest at about 22 pounds. She is a pure blood 13″ Beagle with beautiful markings. Her body is quite long and her beautiful neck is very long as well but in proportion to her body. Her voice is so sweet, when she sounds her call it is melodic and melts my heart.
They say dynamite comes in small packages. “They” must have known Bobby, the smallest of the pack but by far the feistiest. She is also a 13″ Beagle with beautiful markings. Lucy and Bobby are sisters and they are 4 years old.
The five of us all sleep together in our bed. Bobby usually sleeps between us about mid back. Lucy sleeps either behind my bent knees (I always sleep on my right side) or behind my partners knees (he always sleeps on his left side). Patty sleeps opposite of Lucy.
My partner rises early. He readies himself for work and leaves. He always leaves one of the curtains pulled ever so slightly back so as to allow a little sunlight into the room. I rise later in the morning. The “babies” never make a sound but when they sense I’m waking up all 3 of them vie for position to be the first to lick my face to say good morning. Some days I spend extra time getting up just to let them all have a turn trying to wake me up, lol. I get a facial everyday!
Once I’ve gotten out of bed the game is afoot! Of all the wrestling and jumping and running around I’ve seen them do Patty is always the one who hangs back and stays out of the fracas. When I finally open the stairwell door that leads downstairs and to the front door Lucy and Bobby shoot like a cannonball down the stairs. Patty waits for me and follows me downstairs being careful not to bump me. She is the sweetest and most considerate dog I’ve ever known. She is also the cleanest. Very meticulous in her hygiene. I’m not sure how she keeps her white/black/tan fur so brilliantly clean but it looks like a royal vestment. We sometimes call her “Princess Patty” because of her royal demeanor.
As I said at the beginning “Life is good”. Our Beagles remind me everyday just how good it is.
I cannot tell you how much I love our Beagles.
Every spring birds settle into nests in order to hatch their eggs. We have a large wooded property and many, many birds make their spring/summer homes here.
Each year there are families of House Wren’s who inhabit nests that their ancestors built on the top ledges of columns on our front porch. They are small birds and require minimal space for their nests. These same nests have remained undisturbed for years. They are quite beautifully built with fine twigs and thick moss nestled around the exposed sides. The nests are lined with a collection of human hair (donated by my sisters who take their hair trimmings and leave them in the front yard for birds to find and use just for this purpose) and downy feathers. It’s really quite something.
Nature is unforgiving and some of the eggs get bumped out of the nest before they hatch. Usually the Wren’s hatch 3 eggs in their little bungalows. After a few weeks of nurturing the newest members of the Wren family are ready (some more than others, lol) to be encouraged to leave the nest by their mother.
The mothers stop bringing scrumptious meals on the fly to the little birds. They will perch in a branch of an oak tree just off the porch near the nests. They sit there and make calls to the little fledglings and the young ones will make calls back in protest hoping for another meal. Eventually the little fellows gather their courage enough to take that leap of faith and flap their wings. They fly away into the new world and the mothers take flight as well. They do what ever it is that birds do and teach their young how to find their own food.
This year one of the fledglings refused to leave the nest. The mother sat just a few feet away and called to the little one all day. The little one called back to her. We listened to this all day thinking this little one wasn’t going to make it. Maybe he was too weak, maybe he was injured or crippled in some way or maybe he was just stubborn. We knew it was not our place to interfere if there was any hope of his joining his family.
As the sun began to set the mother’s calls were silenced but the little one continued to plead. I knew the mother had given up. Not knowing what we would do if he was abandoned and left to die we fetched the ladder and went to the porch. It was obvious he wanted to leave the nest because he was flapping his wings furiously. As we drew closer it was also obvious one of his little legs was caught in the twigs of the nest. We climbed up to the nest and gently loosened his bind. He was terrified of us, of course, but he was also very relieved to be set free. He took flight in the direction of the old oak tree and as he flew past I saw his mother join him in flight. She had not abandoned him at all. She was waiting for some reason.
I wonder what was going through her mind? Did she know the little guy was trapped? Was she waiting there so he wouldn’t be alone when his end came? I must believe she felt as much relief as he did when he flew away. A mother’s love is unconditional regardless of the species.
This was such a sweet, heart-warming experience I had to share it with my friends here and elsewhere. It did bring up so much emotion within me that I admit some tears of joy did flow.
I miss my mother so much.