Debate on homosexuality in animals

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Debate on homosexuality in animals

Post by admin » Tue Mar 08, 2005 6:07 pm

SCIENCE: PENGUINS REVIVE DEBATE ON HOMOSEXUALITY IN ANIMALSBy Julio Godoy

PARIS, Mar. 5, 2005 (IPS/GIN) -- At a German zoo, the behaviour of six penguins that formed same-sex couples has revived the scientific debate about the origins of homosexuality in the animal kingdom: biological or social?

When Heike Kuek, director of the zoo in Bremerhaven, in northern Germany, decided in late January to bring in female Humboldt penguins (Spheniscus humboldti) from a Swedish zoo, her intentions were -- biologically speaking -- understandable.

The Humboldt penguin is an endangered species. Today there are just 20,000 of these birds left, and most live along the Pacific coast of Chile and Peru. The Bremerhaven zoo is home to 14 of them -- 10 males and four females -- which form part of a European programme to ensure protection of the species.

In theory, in a p
rotected environment, the penguins should reproduce and multiply.

But the arithmetic of procreation occasionally runs into a twist.

The 14 penguins formed seven pairs. The four females mated with four males and reproduced just once. The remaining six males formed three homosexual pairs, which in their fruitless attempts to produce offspring have attempted to incubate rocks that they have confused with eggs.

So Kuek decided to import the four females, which were charged with attracting the males that had formed same-sex couples.

But the attempt came too late. The Bremerhaven males ignored the female penguins from Sweden, and continued their homosexual behaviours.

Studies of the birds' sexuality suggest that the formation of a pair occurs many months before the end of the natural incubation period, in this case, at the end of the northern hemisphere winter.

"The relationship between our penguin pairs is very deep. Now we have to wait until the beginning of 2006 to see if they will form heterosexual couples," Kuek said in a Tierramérica interview.

Kuek's effort triggered a strong reaction from gay and lesbian groups around the world. From Austria to Australia, homosexual activists condemned what they considered illegitimate intervention in the sexual freedom of animals.

Beyond the protests, the experience could reinforce the biological thesis which suggests that homosexuality among animals is not a circumstance derived from the relative number of members of the opposite sex.

According to a study of sheep at the University of Oregon's school of medicine, in the U.S. northwest, animal sexuality could be determined -- among other variables -- by a network of nerves located in the hypothalamus (a region of the brain responsible for the production of several hormones), which conditions sexual behaviour.

In the study published in 2004, physiologist Charles Roselli and his team said they discovered groups of brain cells that were different amongst the
sheep and that showed a strong correlation with their sexual preference. Roselli dubbed this knot of nerve cells "ovine sexually dimorphic nucleus", oSDN.

The team examined 27 adult sheep, four years old and of different breeds, raised on an agricultural research station in the northwestern U.S. state of Idaho. The sample included eight rams that manifested heterosexual behaviour nine with homosexual behavior and 10 ewes.

The research determined that the oSDN of the males that preferred females was considerably larger and contained many more neurons than in the other 19 sheep.

"Ours and other similar studies strongly suggest that the sexual preference among animals is biologically determined," Roselli told a press conference. When he presented the report the physiology and pharmacology professor added, "This possibility is also valid for humans."

If that is true, the Bremerhaven penguins are homosexual, and even though the females brought in from Sweden show all their charm, their
efforts will be futile.

However, research of other species implies that homosexuality could be a sort of survival strategy, determined by social factors.

A study of Japanese macaque females, who are bisexual and particularly promiscuous, illustrates this argument. The monkeys showed occasional homosexual preferences, but nevertheless make every effort to excite the males, while also competing with them for the sexual favours of other females.

According to Paul Vasey, psychology and neuroscience professor at the University of Lethbridge, in Canada, this behaviour occurs especially when the females are faced with defenceless males.

The bisexual behaviour of the macaque females is a strategy intended to excite the sexually inactive males, Vasey told Tierramérica.

He explained that during his research, published in 2002 in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour, he manipulated the numeric relation of females with respect to male macaques in order to analyse the females' sexual preferences in function of the availability of potential mates of the opposite sex.

"I found that when the number of males is reduced, the homosexual behaviour of the females increases," said the scientist.

According to Vasey, captivity -- like the case of the Humboldt penguins of Bremerhaven -- does not explain homosexual behaviour. "The evidence available to us suggests that the animals that show homosexual behaviour in captivity also do so in the wild."

There are numerous examples of homosexuality among animals. At the Central Park Zoo in New York City, two male penguins of the species Pygoscelis Antarctica, Roy and Silo, have been a couple for the past seven years, showing what experts refer to as the ecstatic sexual behaviour typical of the species.

When the Central Park Zoo tried something similar to the experiment at Bremerhaven -- introducing female penguins in the same area as Roy and Silo in an attempt to change their sexual behaviour -- the two males ignored them.

Like their "cousins" in Germany, Roy and Silo tried to incubate rocks in their nest. When the zoo provided them with a real egg, they incubated it and hatched a female named Tango. Roy and Silo acted as perfect parents, taking care of Tango as if she were truly their offspring.

Based on these experiences, scientists believe that a more comprehensive theory of sexual selection among animals is needed, and should take into account social as well as biological aspects.

(*Originally published Feb. 26 by Latin American newspapers that are part of the Tierramérica network. Tierramérica is a specialised news service produced by IPS with the backing of the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Environment Programme.)

Gelin_

Post by Gelin_ » Thu Mar 10, 2005 12:38 pm

It's a very good article that points to the complexity of sexual behaviour/preferences in animals. There is still a lot to learn in this area.

gelin

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Post by admin » Fri Mar 11, 2005 7:47 pm

Couldn't it be simply that those German penguins did not speak Swedish? It might be hard for a male German penguin to offer a line to a Swedish gal...if he does not know the first word in Swedish. A Danish female penguin, on the other hand, would not care. Isn't that true, Leonel?

But seriously, those male penguins are surely stupid ! ! ! Consider this: "in their fruitless attempts to produce offspring have attempted to incubate rocks that they have confused with eggs."

Stupid enough to turn those Swedish penguins into lesbians. I would not blame them.

Gelin_

Post by Gelin_ » Sat Mar 12, 2005 11:35 am

...But seriously, those male penguins are surely stupid ! ! ! Consider this: "in their fruitless attempts to produce offspring have attempted to incubate rocks that they have confused with eggs."...

Now, it wouldn't be fair to stretch that observation....but if homosexuals want to use those penguins as a scientific case to support their lifestyle, then they won't have any mercy for tree trunks, rocks, steering wheels, chairs....you name it. I hope not!

gelin

T-dodo

Post by T-dodo » Sat Mar 12, 2005 7:17 pm

.....homosexuals want to use those penguins as a scientific case to support their lifestyle....


Gelin,

I thought I read somewhere that humans are perhaps the only animals who used sex for entertainment besides procreation. If animals homosexuality does exist, the lifestyle theory as an explanation for homosexuality would be in danger. I am yet to be convinced by either side in this debate on the causes of homosexuality.


Jean-Marie

Leonel JB

Post by Leonel JB » Sun Mar 13, 2005 3:17 am

Guys, most animals act instinctively.- Sometimes, sexually, man tends to behave instinctively. When I said Man, I meant Males.

The sexual threshold is so intense, it can make a President use his cigar as a sexual tool...

There are so many theories concerning Homosexuality. I don't think homosexuals would use the penguins as advocates for their behavior.

I understand that in a female/female relationship there would be a lot of cuddling involved. In a male/male relationship, neg yo pap gripe.

Guy wrote:
Couldn't it be simply that those German penguins did not speak Swedish? It might be hard for a male German penguin to offer a line to a Swedish gal...if he does not know the first word in Swedish. A Danish female penguin, on the other hand, would not care. Isn't that true, Leonel?

Sexual acts can be speechless. In the caves, humans used to drag their females without any
word. A Danish penguin can be sexually advanced or up front which is about the same for the Swedish penguins. Scandinavian penguins are sexually very developed, I suppose. American penguins would be more uptight...

By the way, guys, if there is no kissing involved, they are not homosexuals???

leonel

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Post by admin » Sun Mar 13, 2005 11:57 am

By the way, guys, if there is no kissing involved, they are not homosexuals???

Leonel, you completely lost me with your last comment.

Leonel JB

Post by Leonel JB » Sun Mar 13, 2005 1:48 pm

Guy, you keep getting lost with my jokes, man.

There is a joke of this guy who got involved with some momosexual acts... he didn't consider it as such, There was no good night kiss involved...

You'll get it, I just don't want to look very insensitive.

Se sak fE mwen pa bay blag la, I need to be politically correct.
leonel

Gelin_

Post by Gelin_ » Mon Mar 14, 2005 2:26 pm

...I am yet to be convinced by either side in this debate on the causes of homosexuality.

Human life in general is very complex, particularly in the area of sexuality. It's a very complicated issue that involves both our physical body (with all its biochemical, physiological and genetic elements) and our inner-self (some would say our soul or our spirit..you pick one). But the reality is that ex-gays do exist, somethings that cannot be explained by genetics alone...

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Post by admin » Mon Mar 14, 2005 5:43 pm

So do ex-carnivores, Gelin (though they still probably salivate internally when they see a piece of juicy steak). The fundamental question, which concerns genetics, never was whether a man or woman can reform into a type of behavior that is judged more acceptable by society (the answer to that is a resounding yes), rather it is whether some people are predisposed genetically to be homosexuals and lesbians.

My answer to that is: I can't speak from a genetics standpoint, as I am no expert in that field. However, it is QUITE OBVIOUS that a number of homosexual men and women emp[hatically show that predispostion in their behaviors, from the time they are four, five years old, and even earlier than that in some instances.

I am not saying that every boy who plays with Barbie dolls shows a tendency to become homosexual, far from it. [Have you ever met some Haitian fathers who freak out when they see their boys playing with dolls?] But Gelin, I have seen kids grow up homosexual and I knew that they would be homosexual from the time when sex would be the very last thing on their minds. Those kids had never even been exposed to homosexuality at all in their household and environment. I am thinking particularly of a little boy, who was my neighbor, and who consistently played the role of a girl and consistently displayed some distinctively feminine affinities, from age 7 all the way thourh his adolecence. And when he became old enough to make his own decisions, and after several homosexual encounters, he decided to have sex surgery and become a woman. As he related to me afterward, the surgeries were complex and very painful. He followed hormone therapy, he got breast implants, he got his male organs taken out and (supposedly) the external female apparatus constructed for him.

But I remember that while he was in high school, his grandmother related to me that she had discovered several of her panties missing. When she investigated, she found out that he was wearing them. But even worse than that, she discovered that he would also wear feminine napkins periodically, as though he was having his period, even though he was visibly equipped like other males.

At first, he used to deny his homosexual behavior energetically, and that was truly pitiful, as it was so very obvious. But then, as he began to assert himself and wearing dresses and sandals to school (during his last year of high school) and wearing makeup and false boobs, etc, he explained to me that he was not a homosexual but a "special woman".

Even before the extraordinarily painful sex surgeries, he demanded to be called by a girl's name, which he offered. But later, his sexual change completed, he engaged freely in "heterosexual" relationships, this time no longer as a "special woman" but as a woman, period.

So perhaps, he never truly was a homosexual and is outside of the frame of this discussion. It's kind of funny though to think that while the
Bible would have energetically condemned his youthful homsexuality, physical surgery would straighten him out in the eyes of the Church and the Bible (!?!?)

That was perhaps an extreme case, Gelin, and maybe it is not a good example for me to base myself on to answer your query. However, yes, Gelin, it is clear to me that homosexuality is not just a lifestyle choice like smoking and drinking. And we should think of how LUCKY we are, to be male "in a male body" and female "in a female body" before we go condemning other people for their homosexuality.

Imagine a white person condemning a black person for his blackness or an American Indian condemning a white person for his whiteness. And to think that sexual orientation may have a more marked genetic footprint than race!! (I am not affirming this, Gelin, I have to read more about it... but I am only raising the possibility).

Gelin_

Post by Gelin_ » Tue Mar 15, 2005 10:21 am

So do ex-carnivores, Gelin (though they still probably salivate internally when they see a piece of juicy steak).

I agree.

The fundamental question, which concerns genetics, never was whether a man or woman can reform into a type of behavior that is judged more acceptable by society (the answer to that is a resounding yes), rather it is whether some people are predisposed genetically to be homosexuals and lesbians.

The genetic predisposition is highly possible. And I have said it before: all of us are genetically predisposed to do many different things in life.

However, it is QUITE OBVIOUS that a number of homosexual men and women emphatically show that predispostion in their behaviors, from the time they are four, five years old, and even earlier than that in some instances.

One boy and one man that I know come to my mind. Yes. The sexual orientation can be more or less evident early in life. By the way, when I say "know" you know what I mean...:o)

But Gelin, I have seen kids grow up homosexual and I knew that they would be homosexual from the time when sex would be the very last thing on their minds.

Your example is a good one and there are many cases like that. But there is one thing that I would say differently. I would insert the phrase <I>most likely</I> somewhere in there because not all of them actually become homosexuals in their adult life. And the opposite is also true: some kids become homosexuals later in life even when they were as manly as possible while growing up. The point is that there is always a possibility of a different outcome because a lot of factors such as educational, social, family, religious elements play a role in the final sexual direction one takes.

It's kind of funny though to think that while the Bible would have energetically condemned his youthful homsexuality, physical surgery would straighten him out in the eyes of the Church and the Bible (!?!?)

I have no answer to that. Because the words church and bible mean many things for different people, and historically they have been used in weird ways.

That was perhaps an extreme case, Gelin, and maybe it is not a good example for me to base myself on to answer your query. However, yes, Gelin, it is clear to me that homosexuality is not just a lifestyle choice like smoking and drinking.

Those extreme cases are in fact very important to begin to understand the full scope of the whole thing. I think that the genetic predisposition exists and can be stronger in some and more or less weak in others. But the whole issue is complex when it comes to personal responsibility. While some are strongly condemning this lifestyle, others are strongly defending it using every tool avaible from the law of the land to scientific research. When I made the comparison with drinking/smoking I meant to say that genes linked to these habits can also be detected if the same approach was used. In that case somebody hooked on any of these habits could also claim genetic predisposition - which would also be right and ok to some extent.

And we should think of how LUCKY we are, to be male "in a male body" and female "in a female body" before we go condemning other people for their homosexuality.

I never condemned anybody for their homosexuality although I believe it's not ok. I make the difference between the homosexual person (who has value in my eyes) and the homosexual act (which I do not support - personal opinion).

Imagine a white person condemning a black person for his blackness or an American Indian condemning a white person for his whiteness. And to think that sexual orientation may have a more marked genetic footprint than race!! (I am not affirming this, Gelin, I have to read more about it... but I am only raising the possibility).

Some have attempted to do it before - vainly. I have also read a few papers about it and the complexity is still there. I think we have to remain open and continue to question everything that can be questioned.

Actually, someone says that you should have doubt about doubt itself....isn't that something?

gelin

T-dodo

Post by T-dodo » Tue Mar 15, 2005 5:30 pm

Gelin,

I must admit you keep surprising me by resisting the urges of the extremes of the positions you have. You are as wise as you are educated, even though your faith is very strong.

Jean-Marie

Leonel JB

Post by Leonel JB » Wed Mar 16, 2005 4:52 am

My question is this: If Homosexuality is genetics, we know about the future of Genetic engineering. Do you guys think that homosexuality can be altered by simply changing that code in the Human Genome which is responsible for this "Living condition".

By the way, we know that very soon, we will be able to engineer "THe PERFECT HUMAN"... What will Happen next?

Very complex and indeed, great Thread, guys!

I hated genetics, but it is interesting...

leonel

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Post by admin » Wed Mar 16, 2005 7:39 am

Leonel, if God (in six days) or Nature (over millions of years) could not construct THE PERFECT HUMAN, what makes you think that ordinary human beings (who cannot even wrap their feeble minds around the requirements for PEACE in this world, and the elimination of WAR, POVERTY, MISERY and STARVATION) could ever devise "A PERFECT HUMAN" ? Sorry, my friend... while I am a great fan of science (maybe not as knowledgeable as Gelin, but science and mathematics have always captivated my youthful imagination), I can guarantee you that we are no closer today to produce a perfect human being than we are to create the perfect dry bean.

However, just thinking about it can be fun!

So I propose that in the "Science and Technology" forum, we engage in the following exercises (but they have to be three distinct threads... as they DO NOT fit under the present one). Let's give our "scientific" imagination a workout and lay out our concepts of what would constitute A PERFECT HUMAN (of either gender), A PERFECT WOMAN (great exercise for the men in the forum), A PERFECT MAN (relax, my "Ann Pale" male friends, let the women have their fun too). True, I may later have to transfer those entries from the "Science and Technology" forum to the "Humor" section, but just to start with, let's create them right here. Which sequence of genes from the Human Genome would you change... to attain what characteristics? We have right now the opportunity to do it better than God herself (please, Gelin, don't turn theological on me now, just go with the flow...)

As we attempt to define the perfect human being, the perfect woman, and the perfect man, others may attempt to define the perfect dog, the perfect cat, etc.

And, my friend Leonel, I am sure you can imagine what the perfect " %$^*! " would be... but unfortunately, we cannot pursue that conversation on "Ann Pale". People are watching us.

So, we are off to the races. What are your ideas for perfection?

Gelin_

Post by Gelin_ » Wed Mar 16, 2005 12:36 pm

...I can guarantee you that we are no closer today to produce a perfect human being than we are to create the perfect dry bean.

Ala yon nonm anmèdan se Guy mesye....!

...please, Gelin, don't turn theological on me now, just go with the flow...

Really hard...but I guess I'll have to try.....

gelin

Leonel JB

Post by Leonel JB » Wed Mar 16, 2005 2:06 pm

Guy, in response to your question. I don't have a perfect Man or Woman. Hitler had it and a lot of other supremacists.

If they can get the genetic codons for eye colors, height, obesity and everything else. It won't be impossible to clone someone at your own taste...

Guy, it seems that God is not Perfect either. He took a lot of time to make someone at his own image. But again, he did not know anything about the Human genomes. Right, Gelin?

By the way Guy, I forgot to put "To be said". Was it the right quote?

Perfection is also subjective,
leonel

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Post by admin » Wed Mar 16, 2005 3:34 pm

Guy, in response to your question. I don't have a perfect Man or Woman. Hitler had it and a lot of other supremacists.

Wow, mwen pa te panse se nan yon nich gèp konsa mwen ta pre rantre. Mwen te jis vle konn a ki sa ou panse lò ou te di ke "very soon, we will be able to engineer THe PERFECT HUMAN..." Men zafè Hitler la, mwen pa nan bagay konsa ditou.

Men... koumabo, Leonel, pa di m ou pa gen okenn ide sou sa yon fanm pafè ta ye. Mwen pap kwè w.

Antouka, papa, se ou ki te di lasyans kapab "engineer the perfect human". Mwenmenm pèsonèlman, mwen pa kwè nan bagay sa. Nan chache fè twòp eksperyans sou lanati imèn, lasyans kapab gate sa nèt!

Sa mwen te mande fè a, se te yon senp ti egzèsis fantezis ki ta kapab revele anpil sou konsepsyon nou genyen de lapèfeksyon epi tou direksyon nou panse lasyans ak teknoloji pral suiv nan lavni pou l kapab satisfè atant nou yo.

Pa egzanp, jan mwen te di deja sou fowòm sa, jodi a se pa ni de ni twa fanm nan Ajantin ki pa rekipere vijinite yo, paske sa se te rèv anpil gason pou yo twouve fanm yo vyèj ankò, sitou si se pa te yo ki te gen lonè sa pou yo louvri baryè a an premye. E chiriji plastik sa yo se jwèt timoun piti lò ou konsidere ki sa yon jou yo pral chache fè ak manipilasyon jenetik fanm ak gason. Sonje, VANITE se youn nan pi gwo fòs ki egziste kay moun. Li kab nan menm nivo ak VORASITE (greed). Kidonk, mwen di, si se nou ki te mèt jwèt la, ki sa nou ta vle chanje kay lòm ak tout manipilasyon jenetik posib e imajinab, men sa pa vle di ke nou pral chache yon RAS SIPERYÈ. Dayè, si m te kapab, mwen ta fini ak zafè RAS sa nèt, opwen pyèsmoun pa ta kab distenge ki ras yon lòt moun ye, men sa pa vle di ditou ke lòm pa te pral envante lòt baz pou diskriminasyon.

Fòk lòm pa ta lòm. Malerezman, mwen pa kwè jenetik ap janm ka efase karakteristik tankou VANITE, VORASITE, ANVI, EGOYISM, ELATRIYE. Sa se domèn relijyon, teyoloji, ak imanism (humanisme). Sèl jan bagay sa yo ap disparèt, se moun ki ta pou tounen ROBO. Mwen pa kwè se sa nap chache.

Guy, it seems that God is not Perfect either. He took a lot of time to make someone at his own image. But again, he did not know anything about the Human genomes. Right, Gelin?

Kòm ou di, se Gelin w ap chache kont, kidonk mwen pap reponn ou.

By the way Guy, I forgot to put "To be said". Was it the right quote?

Perfection is also subjective,

Yes, Leonel, perfection is "said to be" subjective. Is that an objective statement?

Guy

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