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.
We live near a creek. There are lots of critters that hang out near the creek. We see deer, raccoons, turtles, opossums, dogs and cats. Sometimes those critters venture into our yard. Thankfully we have 3 beagles that are always on guard duty.
Yesterday our beagles were raising a ruckus and trying hard to get our attention. The three of them had created a circle around something and were barking like mad. I couldn’t see anything from the back door but I knew there must be something in the center of that circle. I just hoped it wasn’t some poor kitty that had made the mistake of trespassing in their territory. This happens sometimes and the oldest and largest of the 3, Patty, will try her best to protect the poor thing from attack by the 2 others until one of us can rescue it. Patty is such a sweet girl.
Not knowing what I might find I grabbed a shovel as I passed the barn on the way to they ‘circle’. As I got closer I still couldn’t see anything. I was thinking they had cornered another vicious turtle. Usually when I come out to investigate Patty will meet me and lead me to the battle zone but this time she held her ground and barked alarmingly along with Lucy and Bobby. As I drew close to the pack I saw it. It was a coiled snake that was striking but the dogs had kept out of range. I knew what it was the moment I saw it. A Copperhead Snake was the unlucky intruder.
In truth, the snake must have been terrified and was defending itself from attack. Even though I knew it was probably just passing through and would have gone about it’s business hunting unsuspecting chipmunks or field mice I couldn’t leave it where it might actually bite one of our protectors (the beagles) or a neighbor’s pet or even a neighbor.
I mustered the courage to take a few steps closer. It struck at ME!!! I was out of range but my adrenaline kicked in out of fright. I could run inside and call animal control but the snake would surely bite one of my dogs during the wait for him to get here. I was the only man at home at the time so I couldn’t pass it off to my partner or other man of the family. I was trembling with adrenaline by now.
The dogs would not turn their attention from the snake. I called them back but they would not obey. I began to wonder if one of them had already been bitten. Now I was really scared thinking one of my babies might be in danger of dying while I hesitated. I walked right over to the snake and quickly, without really thinking about it, cut it’s head off with the shovel in one quick, clean blow. I had seen my father do this many times from the time I was young. We lived in the country and snakes were always coming too close to home. He was fearless about it. I was not.
I felt bad for having killed it. I really did. It was a beautiful creature even though it was terribly dangerous and scary. I don’t like to kill any thing. I will do what ever I have to do to protect those I love from danger.
It’s funny how danger can bring out a part of us we rarely use.
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.