From the middle of October until next summer the Norwegian Natural History Museum of the University of Oslo will host the first exhibition that focuses on homosexuality in the animal kingdom.
“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.
The most well-known homosexual animal is the dwarf chimpanzee, one of humanity’s closes relatives. The entire species is bisexual. Sex plays an conspicuous roll in all their activities and takes the focus away from violence, which is the most typical method of solving conflicts among primates and many other animals.
“Sex among dwarf chimpanzees is in fact the business of the whole family, and the cute little ones often lend a helping hand when they engage in oral sex with each other.”
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 Bøckman 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.”
Good homosexual parents
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.
When you see a colony of black-headed gulls, you can be sure that almost every tenth pair is lesbian. The females have no problems with being impregnated, although, according to Petter Boeckman they cannot be defined as bisexual.
“If a female has sex with a male one time, but thousands of times with another female, is she bisexual or homosexual? This is the same way to have children is not unknown among homosexual people.”
Indeed, there is a number of animals in which homosexual behaviour has never been observed, such as many insects, passerine birds and small mammals.
“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.”
Petter Bøckman regrets that there is too little research about homosexuality among animals.
“The theme has long been taboo. The problem is that researchers have not seen for themselves that the phenomenon exists or they have been confused when observing homosexual behaviour or that they are fearful of being ridiculed by their colleagues. Many therefore overlook the abundance of material that is found. Many 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.”
One example of overlooking behaviour noted by Petter Bøckman is a description of mating among giraffes, when nine out of ten pairings occur between males.
“Every male that sniffed a female was reported as sex, while anal intercourse with orgasm between males was only “revolving around” dominance, competition or greetings.
Masturbation is common in the animal kingdom.
“Masturbation is the simplest method of self pleasure. We have a Darwinist mentality that all animals only have sex to procreate. But there are plenty of animals who will masturbate when they have nothing better to do. Masturbation has been observed among primates, deer, killer whales and penguins, and we’re talking about both males and females. They rub themselves against stones and roots. Orangutans are especially inventive. They make dildos of wood and bark,” says Petter Boeckman of the Norwegian Natural History Museum.
Source: Apollon University Magasin, University of Oslo
Petter Böckman | alfa
Gene switch may repair DNA and prevent cancer
12.02.2016 | Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences at Kyoto University
New method opens crystal clear views of biomolecules
11.02.2016 | Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY
Today, plants and microorganisms are heavily used for the production of medicinal products. The production of biopharmaceuticals in plants, also referred to as “Molecular Pharming”, represents a continuously growing field of plant biotechnology. Preferred host organisms include yeast and crop plants, such as maize and potato – plants with high demands. With the help of a special algal strain, the research team of Prof. Ralph Bock at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology in Potsdam strives to develop a more efficient and resource-saving system for the production of medicines and vaccines. They tested its practicality by synthesizing a component of a potential AIDS vaccine.
The use of plants and microorganisms to produce pharmaceuticals is nothing new. In 1982, bacteria were genetically modified to produce human insulin, a drug...
Atomic clock experts from the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) are the first research group in the world to have built an optical single-ion clock which attains an accuracy which had only been predicted theoretically so far. Their optical ytterbium clock achieved a relative systematic measurement uncertainty of 3 E-18. The results have been published in the current issue of the scientific journal "Physical Review Letters".
Atomic clock experts from the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) are the first research group in the world to have built an optical single-ion clock...
The University of Würzburg has two new space projects in the pipeline which are concerned with the observation of planets and autonomous fault correction aboard satellites. The German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy funds the projects with around 1.6 million euros.
Detecting tornadoes that sweep across Mars. Discovering meteors that fall to Earth. Investigating strange lightning that flashes from Earth's atmosphere into...
Physicists from Saarland University and the ESPCI in Paris have shown how liquids on solid surfaces can be made to slide over the surface a bit like a bobsleigh on ice. The key is to apply a coating at the boundary between the liquid and the surface that induces the liquid to slip. This results in an increase in the average flow velocity of the liquid and its throughput. This was demonstrated by studying the behaviour of droplets on surfaces with different coatings as they evolved into the equilibrium state. The results could prove useful in optimizing industrial processes, such as the extrusion of plastics.
The study has been published in the respected academic journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America).
Exceeding critical temperature limits in the Southern Ocean may cause the collapse of ice sheets and a sharp rise in sea levels
A future warming of the Southern Ocean caused by rising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere may severely disrupt the stability of the West...
12.02.2016 | Event News
09.02.2016 | Event News
02.02.2016 | Event News
12.02.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
12.02.2016 | Life Sciences
12.02.2016 | Medical Engineering