Scientists at California's Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute and the University of Rhode Island recently reported on the same-sex mating habits of Octopoteuthis deletron, a deep-sea squid that indiscriminately shoots sperm packets onto both male and female squids passing by.
O. deletron isn't alone in its same-sex sexual behavior. In a review article published in 2009, biologists Nathan Bailey and Marlene Zuk at the University of California, Riverside, noted that "many thousands of instances of same-sex courtship, pair bonding and copulation have been observed in a wide range of species, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, mollusks and nematodes."
Some animals, when given a choice, show a preference for the same sex, and researchers have even ascribed a same-sex sexual orientation to members of certain species. Read on for some fascinating examples.
Jennifer Abbasi is a science and health writer and editor living in Brooklyn. Follow Jen on Twitter @jenabbasi and email her at email@example.com.
I am in awe of the quantity of comments that got flagged above. It is simply amazing. This subject must really be touchy for some.
It is my opinion that ignorance helps inspire hate and anger and it’s healthy for people to be allowed to voice their own opinions. Those same people could go back and re-read their own opinions and read other opinions and minds could be changed, and inner growth may occur.
@inaka_rob, I am not Jewish so I happen to believe in more parts of the Bible. The Bible is a guideline and the argument made by that Dr. is only a half-truth. You are pretty much saying it condones slavery when in fact it was giving rules for the treatment of slaves. It was pretty much a given that people were going to own slaves in olden days so God gave his people a guideline to treat them fairly even though they were still property which is covered in other books.
Try reading the Book from cover to cover before condemning it. I can take many things out of context and make them sound bad.
Animals including humans don't have sex to procreate, they do whatever feels good and right to them. That some sex end in pregnancy is just lucky for us.
yeah my dog is totally gay. You should see what he makes my other dog do. But I still love him. But not in an unnatural way...unless I get drunk and pass out. Then Rover takes over.
If "Natural Selection " is the truth, then same sex attraction would have been bred out of the species millenia ago. How would a practice so anti-human be perpetrated. As to other animals , we are not other animals. We live, I hope, by using our brains. Some of us choose to take drugs that destroy our minds and bodes. Was that genetic? Who was born with a deficiency of heron or THC that makes it critical we keep the level up artificially. If you choose to be self-destructive or to remove yourself from the gene-pool, please do it quietly and don't insist I pay attention or even approve. I only ask you respect that I don't want to know nor do I care. Just as I respect your right to go off in a corner and do your anti-life actions.
My dog makes love to its pillow!! Now explain what that means. Seriously, SHE makes love to the pillow in a male style. I cannot imagine an explanation for this at all.
This sequence of comments may soon be academic in that, like the only too common abortion of female embryos, genetic manipulation techniques will end the gay predisposition.
wa8whp, you are forgetting that perhaps same-sex attraction has an important role in nature, hence it does not get bred out of the species. And same sex attraction is really not anti-human. I do not understand where that affirmation comes from since the claim is usually the opposite ("homosexuality is a choice humans make").
I may be completely misunderstanding your post, and what you are saying is that natural selection does not exist.
Animals use their brains as well, by the way. Some even drug themselves too. See the lemurs licking toxic centipedes, or animals eating fermented fruit to get drunk.
Here's a great NatGeo video showing homosexuality in animals:
So did Adam and Eve's sin cause the animals to turn gay? Or is this part of nature and evolution? You decide.
mp, you got to find out if your dog is in love with the pillow or simply humping it for self pleasure.
brublr, we first need to find the gay gene.
Reading these comments makes me feel I am living in a coo-coo clock!
I am I really the only one that noticed that:
ALL OF THE SO-CALLED "GAY" ANIMALS ARE ACTUALLY BI ?!?!?
(It doesn't say so in the example, but after Roy and Silo "divorced" at least one of them went on to pick a female partner)
What this means is every single comment regarding "natural selection" and "reproduction" is TOTALLY IRRELEVANT!
All of these "gay" animals ARE reproducing!! Having sex with a same sex partner occasionally (even for one stage in life) does not in any way invalidate natural selection, nor does natural selection exclude having sex with a same sex partner. Just like natural selection doesn't select against affection or play or social activity or any other "non-productive" activity.
The simple reality is animals don't mate for the "purpose" of reproduction in the first place; any more than two teens in the back of a car are trying to make a baby. That is the "purpose" from the stand point of DNA and the specie as a whole, but an individual animal does what feels good. Without the social / religious non-sense that humans deal with, sex feels good, period. The real scientific question here is why aren't all animals bi all the time.
As much as I can see my dog is in a happy place and so I leave her alone. Its at those moments of her bonding with her pillow, I prefer to choose ignorance for myself, turn the TV volume up louder and just focus on the program. I do not think, I will ever pursue the answers to your questions sir. Some things just need distance. ;)
I just think homosexuality is instinctually behavioral in animals stemming from dominating another for superiority (@mp this is probably why your female dog is mounting a pillow; practicing the act of establishing dominance).
I'm also saying homosexuality in humans is evolved from the same thing to an effect where it can be enjoyed, similar to the evolution of the female orgasm; a survival measure twisted into forming an act of pleasure.
For those who can't understand how evolution supports homosexuality, I implore you to think about how little we know about WHY traits exist. There may be more to natural selection than just what's on the surface. Homosexuality could be a by-product of something more important. For instance, maybe male homosexuality relates to a female's ability to be more fertile and produce more children? That sounds strange, but recent research showed that women who have homosexuals in their bloodline have greater fecundity than women who do not. They produce more children. The same genes that produce homosexuals may be responsible for this, making homosexuality a by-product of something that boosts human survival.
I do hope and wish to all this conversation, a healthy dose of human tolerance is being learned. ;)
please explain then why all animals except for dolphins and humans don't mait except when the female is in heat.
@ at those that say sexuality is not a choice due to the risk of being hurt physicaly and emotionaly.
while i do not beleive that sexuality is always a chioce it can not be disregared as a choice simply due to negative consiquences. why does a woman in the middle east choose to commit adultery if she could be stoned. why do marters choose to follow a path that leads to death. th argument that the negative consiquences of a chioce no matter how great will cause people to always choose not to is illogical.
First of all, in the example given, the squid would be "bi" not gay since it indiscriminately shoots its love packets at whatever squid comes its way.
It may be simply a natural optimization...if the cost of squid sperm is low, it might not be worth the cost of trying to find out whether the other squid is a dude or chick. Just lay low, and fire away until you get a cupie doll.
Some animals on occasion kill their young, eat each other, and roll in their own excrement. If we use same-sex behavior in animals to justify it in humans, we probably should factor in filicide, cannibalism, and ... whatever term adequately describes rolling around in pooh. Genesis 3 and Romans 8 describe a creation that was corrupted by sin's introduction into the world. Resulting anomalies in nature are poor justification for homosexuality. Animals act on instinct, whereas humans are moral agents with a free will and a conscience (Rom. 2:15), able to contemplate choices and consequences and apply reason. Everyone understands human obligation to objective moral values when we realize animals maul each other to death isn't murder, but in a human context, it is.
Genetic predisposition to same-sex attraction can explain the desire, as can environmental conditioning, but ultimately we are still responsible for our own behavior. It's that behavior that is condemned in Scripture (Romans 1:24-27).
my opinion on the matter is the urge to mate is a natural instinct... just sometimes the urge is misguided. For example, a dog humping your leg...
For humans, social constructs seem to influence this urge the most. It doesn't seem feasible for homosexuality to be genetic when their numbers are rising, this would be counter-intuitive since they cannot produce offspring.
What a silly assumption.. this is not science; it is a scavenger hunt for rationalization w/o true scientific procedure or data to back it up. Let's find something else to explore....PLEASE!
Maybe squids just have crappy eyesight and can't tell who they're squirting on. Ewwww.
@ Emperor - The idea of numbers growing is completely wrong. In Ancient Greece, homosexuality was common. Perhaps you are referring to the fact that nowadays more people are coming out of the closet and publicly disclosing their sexual orientation. That does not mean more people are becoming homosexuals.
And for the record, not only homosexuals can produce offspring (homosexuals are not sterile people), they can also adopt, impregnate a surrogate woman (or be a surrogate mother, in the case of lesbians), donate sperm to sperm banks, etc.
@ everyone - If you think homosexuality is a choice or a lifestyle, do the scientific approach, and try it for yourself. Really put your heart and soul into romantically loving and having sex with someone of the same sex. If you are able to sustain a long term relationship with this "new choice" of yours, and be truly happy and satisfied with that new choice, then I will accept your theory.
The world would be a much better (and advanced) place if religion was kept out of science and politics.
I just want to quickly chime in about the tone of a few comments. This forum includes a diverse array of backgrounds and opinions; obviously not everyone will agree on all subject matters, especially one as controversial as this. However, referring to people as genetic errors or comparing them to their dogs just rips me apart. An alarming amount of teens are committing suicide because they experience same-sex attraction and do not have anyone trusted to talk to. I was an avid read of PopSci as a kid, and if I were to have read these posts, I would have been emotionally decimated.
If you have a concern about someone who is exhibiting behaviors that you don't agree with or feel puts them at physical, emotional or moral risk, please sit down with them and have a deep and understanding conversation to try to help. Please do not post vague and judgmental comments on the internet -- even if they are not intended to hurt people, they do.
I struggled as a devote Christian teenager when I realized I was more attracted to the same sex. I fought these feelings for years, not acting on urges and lived a heterosexual lifestyle. Eventually I came to the conclusion that I was not happy or truthful with who I was and I accepted that I was gay. I am now happy, partnered for 4 years and planning on having children - I am still a Christian. I don't expect you to understand that; my identity has developed over years of self-reflection, prayer, and studying Canonical and non-canonical history. I respect the fact that you don't agree; I leave each to their own journey.
Back to the topic, I think the fact that scientists observed homosexual sexual encounters in multiple species is fascinating. I loved the interesting posts about how homosexual animals could have possibly came about because they may help nurture a generation. I did pause and wonder when some posts said homosexual behaviors would be bread out by natural selection, but then again that wouldn't explain why they are currently being observed. I think we should study this, write articles about it, and have lively discussions on why it would occur! But, please, let's not attack each other for thinking differently about social or religious implications.
LOL ... God figured folks would have slaves anyhow so just tried to make them treat their slaves better????
The genetics is not difficult for me to understand. One need only look at the example of the Black Swan where two males will pair up, use a female for procreation and then drive her away. I think most folks are smart enough to realize that the offspring of such a pair has a greater chance of survival thereby promoting the 'gay gene'. Look it up! If you can understand that one, then you can understand that there are endless permutations in many if not all species that keep the same-sex genes alive and well. Plainly put, it has great value to a species especially during hard times.
For me, the issue is quite simple. I would like to think I'm 100% all male but I know that is not possible. There is no such 'animal'. Each of us has a percentage of male and female that defines us physically. Each of us has a different percentage of male and female that defines us psychologically and sexually. The possibilities represent a continuum with most finding themselves reasonably on one side or the other. Some will find themselves on both sides and others will be very close to the center. It is to our advantage that we are not too rigidly structured. Diversity is very important for species survival, possibly even for us humans in the future.
It is natural that those that wrote religiously would attack all those that seemed different from the norm. Religion depends on people falling in step. There is no room for diversity.
Guess this dispells the "choice" or "born that way" argument since creatures are not supposed to be sentient. I have no idea who Jim A is but I'd like to give him a 'bro hug'. Well stated.
That is not what I said. The Bible was written by men that were inspired by God. The fact that they wrote it means slavery already existed. Read It for yourself.
Astounding! Not one (unless I missed it) of these comments actually concerns the title and subject of this article. Here is the first: As anyone who has lived and worked on a ranch or farm can tell you from first hand observation: Cattle, swine, sheep, goats, chickens, dogs, cats, mice, rats...ANY domestic animal (and probably any wild animal) can "...actually be gay." Meaning, specifically: refuse to mate..."breed"...with the opposite sex, or do so only when in a press.
Our cultural "gay" discussions are increasingly distorted by a complete lack of understanding of the real (non-human) biological world. I think it is now about 1.5 percent of the US population that works in agriculture...feeding the rest of us. No wonder 98.5 percent don't have a clue how gross biology works.
Were the researchers gay? It makes me wonder since this story is reaching hard for something that simply isn't there. It's called pseudoscience. Unless they absolutely know what animals are thinking then it can't be classified any more than an animal trying to satisfy an urge. If a dog humps a tree, does that mean he desires to specifically mate with trees? Hardly. However, if you classify "gay" as a behavior rather than some kind of hard-wired DNA (of which there is no proof) then maybe the animals are "gay".
Sorry then. There are plenty of Bible people that think it is the word of a God but there are also plenty like you that don't think this, thankfully. I just took your comment on face value and had a bit of fun with it. And yes, I have read it ... not a very good book and I don't recommend it. :-P