07 December 2009 by Kate Douglas
NOT long ago, the news was full of reports about two male Humboldt penguins at a zoo in Germany that adopted an egg, hatched it and reared the chick together. It seems like every time you turn around, the media spotlight has fallen on another example of same-sex liaisons in the animal kingdom.
In the past few years, the ubiquity of such behaviour has become apparent. This summer evolutionary biologists Marlene Zuk and Nathan Bailey from the University of California, Riverside, published a paper on the subject that included examples from dozens of species ranging from dung flies and woodpeckers to bison and macaques.
That is just the beginning of the story. The burning question is why same-sex behaviour would evolve at all when it runs counter to evolutionary principles. But does it? In fact there are many good reasons for same-sex sexual behaviour. What’s more, Zuk and Bailey suggest that in a species where it is common, it is an important driving force in evolution. Continue reading ‘Homosexual selection: The power of same-sex liaisons’
James Owen in London
for National Geographic News
July 23, 2004
Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it. So go the lyrics penned by U.S. songwriter Cole Porter.
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. Continue reading ‘Homosexual Activity Among Animals Stirs Debate’
23 April 2008
Celebrating their uniqueness
by Avishek G Dastidar, Hindustan Times
The little known village of Koovagam in Tamil Nadu’s Villupuram district hosted India’s biggest festival of sexuality for the ‘third gender’ on Tuesday. Close to a lakh people from the transgender community tied the nuptial knot to a deity at the local temple and openly consummated their marriage in the fields under a full moon sky.
Thus kickstarted Koovagam 2008, an age-old festival that gives transgenders the chance to flaunt it in style on the streets without feeling the stigma — through rallies, beauty pageants, sports events, feasts and what not — for a week. Continue reading ‘India’s Koovagam festival – a celebration of transgenderism’
Published 9 April 2008
Tags: anthropology, culture
Paul L. Vasey, David S. Pococka and Doug P. VanderLaan
Accepted for publication 10 August 2006, Science Direct
The Kin Selection Hypothesis for male androphilia posits that genes for male androphilia can be maintained in the population if the fitness costs of not reproducing directly are offset by enhancing inclusive fitness. In theory, androphilic males can increase their inclusive fitness by directing altruistic behavior toward kin, which, in turn, allows kin to increase their reproductive success. Previous research conducted in Western countries has failed to find any support for this hypothesis. The current study tests this basic prediction of the Kin Selection Hypothesis for male androphilia by comparing the altruistic tendencies of androphilic and gynephilic males in the Polynesian nation of Independent Samoa. In Independent Samoa, androphilic males are known locally as fa’afafine. Altruistic tendencies were assessed using a Kin Selection Questionnaire. Comparisons of the altruistic tendencies of fa’afafine and gynephilic men revealed that these two groups did not differ in terms of their overall generosity and allocation of financial resources toward kin, nor did they differ in terms of general neediness or financial resources obtained from kin. Fa’afafine did, however, report greater avuncular tendencies than gynephilic men. Although the greater avuncular tendencies of fa’afafine support the basic prediction of the Kin Selection Hypothesis for male androphilia, further research is needed before one can conclude that these elevated tendencies represent a specially designed adaptation for promoting the fitness of kin. We discuss a number of sociocultural factors that might promote the expression of avuncular tendencies by androphilic males in Independent Samoa. Our results underscore the importance of testing functional hypotheses in evolutionarily appropriate environments.