Bonobo Chimpanzees: A Lesson In Immodesty

Bonobo Chimpanzees are our closest living relatives, genetically speaking. More interesting than that though: they’ve mastered the art of conflict resolution in a most curious and salacious way! Anytime things get heated… well, Bonobo chimps get heated too and then the conflict is resolved!

Please note that there are scenes of a graphic nature in this video, and if you’ve ever doubted our relationship with apes, this video may finally convince you otherwise!

Video Source: “Wild Wives of Africa – Bonobos” uploaded by NatGeoWild on YouTube channel https://youtu.be/82GUjPConiE

Bonobo Chimpanzees are incredibly sexually liberated and use this intimate act (homosexually and heterosexually) as a way to express just about every emotion. If there’s one thing to be said for this, they certainly spend more time bonking than fighting! What’s also interesting to see in this video is just how humanoid their behaviour is.

It gives credence to the adage: Make love not war!

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Sharks – They’re Just Not That Into You

Shark fin above water

When I step into the ocean, the furthest thing from my mind is getting eaten by a shark. There are so many other, more obvious things to think and worry about: getting laid, venereal disease, not getting a venereal disease from getting laid…

Hell, even falling coconuts are more likely to boot you out of this mortal coil than the love bite of a big fish. Yet, I know many people personally who are utterly terrified of sharks. I even had a girlfriend once who made a point of waiting to see whether the water was safe before getting in herself. And she did this by stationing herself on the beach while I cavorted around in the waves for a good ten minutes. When I didn’t disappear in a frothy explosion of blood and surf, she would sidle surreptitiously in and make sure to stay within two metres of the shore.

I dumped her shortly after.

Shark movie poster.png

Most of what we know about sharks comes from their portrayal by movies such as Jaws (1, 2 and 3), Open Water, Deep Blue Sea and a smattering of awful, completely scientifically inaccurate low budget films, a more recent one being the truly horrendous Sharknado and now Sharknado 2. Sweet Lord, as if one wasn’t enough! I can assure you that the last thing on a shark’s mind while being flung through the air by freak atmospheric whirlwinds is food.

True, a horror film about head bludgeoning coconuts probably wouldn’t clean up at the box office, but sharks really do get a bad rap from our insatiable appetite for being terrified in the comfort of our own homes while shovelling fistfuls of popcorn into our face holes. The fact of the matter is, sharks really aren’t that into you! And they’re as misunderstood as men with moustaches.

A hairy lip does not a paedophile make.

Creepy moustache guy

Shark Attack! Or Is It?

My good friend Christopher Reeves – marine biologist by day, superhero by night – raised this incredibly exigent point during one of our many intellectual and totally debauched conversations. Rather it was an exercise he regularly brings up with the bright volunteers that help out at the Seymour Marine Discovery Centre at which he works in Santa Cruz, California. He asks his students to close their eyes and imagine swimming in a cold, dark ocean and I’m going to ask you to do the same right now.

Imagine the feel of the cold salty water gripping your legs, arms and torso and the yawning depths of merciless dark seawater beneath you. A shark is nearby. The hairs on your neck stand up and an atavistic fear clutches at your breast. Imagine the shark: its lines, its inky black eyes, its snout, its rows of jagged, broken teeth.

Did the shark you pictured in your imagination look like this?

Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias) in an attack

Great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias)

I would put my money on the vast majority of your answers being “yes”. This is a great white shark… the one made famous by Peter Benchley’s bestselling novel, Jaws, and later by Steven Spielberg’s 1975 film adaptation. MOST of the subsequent pant-soiling movies made about these fish are based upon the man-eating rampages of this very same species. So, it’s no wonder that our fear of sharks is not actually of the group as a whole, but specifically of great whites. It’s the reason they’re also referred to as “white death.”

Shark Diversity

In reality, the great white is only one of more than 470 different species of sharks in the oceans that comprise 70% of our planet’s surface. And these species are as diverse in habitats, diets and vocations as the crowds that make up a gay pride march. Great whites are amongst the largest species we know of, but sharks come in all shapes and sizes. Many species could easily fit in a paddle pool or even in a fish tank, while the biggest sharks – the whale shark and the basking shark – don’t even eat big fish or seals! Like baleen whales, they trawl the ocean with their mouths wide open, filtering the water for tiny plankton, crab larvae, krill, squid and micro-algae.

Whale shark and underwater photographer
Does a whale shark speak whale or shark?

These massive creatures are, like a vegetarian zombie, slow moving and completely disinterested in eating humans or any other large, fleshy animal for that matter. Braaaaains. That is, unless you were stupid enough to hang out near the mouth of a whale shark, in which case sheer bad luck would see you gagging the poor creature. In any case, you’d drown long before you were digested and I’m guessing that’s probably the more favourable option.

Dwarf_Lanternshark
“Dwarf Lanternshark” photograph by Javontaevious. Previously published: Javontae Murphy@ Facebook. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikipedia.

On the other end of the size spectrum is the dwarf lanternshark, which is the smallest shark we know of according to the ReefQuest Centre for Shark Research.The dwarf lanternshark is thought to be the smallest species of shark in the world. I say “thought” because not even humans are arrogant enough to assume that every single species has been discovered and given a place into our taxonomy system. This particular shark lives along the upper continental shelf off of the coast of Venezuela and Columbia and at maturity, reaches a length of around 17 cm (± 6 inches). 6 Inches may be a whole lot of fun in the bedroom, but it’s certainly not going to send bloodied limbs flying in every which direction.

Lanternsharks produce light from tiny pores in their skin, which causes them to glow beautiful otherworldly colours. See? Size doesn’t always count. Pushed really, really hard, a lanternshark could probably give your toe a nip or at the very least a nasty suck, but they’re certainly nothing to be afraid of. In fact, they’re probably utterly terrified of you and so they should be. Ruthless overfishing of the Caribbean has put these sharks and many other species like them on the endangered list.

Why Do Sharks Eat Humans Then?

Great white shark

If you were a seal, a fish or a very unlucky seagull, you’d have every reason to get nervous around great white sharks or other similar carnivorous fish. Of course, sharing the water with a large predator would make even the most masculine of men scream like a four-year old girl, but the point is that we are not sharks’ natural prey. Shark attacks aren’t attacks at all… rather they are “accidents”. Like going on a second date with a guy who spends the whole evening talking to your boobs.

Sharks do make mistakes occasionally and appearances can be deceiving. A thrashing wetsuit-clad surfer on a torpedo-shaped board can quite easily pass for a delicious seal, so can you really hold them accountable for the gore that follows? At least we can blame alcohol for our poor decision-making. Sharks, will take a chomp, realise they’ve been duped and then tend to swim off or around in confusion. This is why so many shark bite victims have escaped with their lives.

Trust me. If an apex predator weighing more than 2,000 kg and having more teeth than a love-struck Tom Cruise wanted to eat you, it would. Consider your arm or leg to be a small sacrifice. An hors d’oeuvre.

So What Do We Need to Know About Sharks?

Funny shark picture meme

 Image Credit: WeKnowMemes.com

There are many hundreds of different species of sharks, but only a tiny handful have been known to take the occasional bite at a human being. Since larger sharks don’t hang around heavily populated beaches to indulge in easy feeding, we can only assume that these very rare events are cases of mistaken identity. We are simply not on the menu.

Does this mean that we don’t need to be afraid? Yes… but that’s not a license to be stupid either. Just because bears, wolves and other large predators don’t normally eat humans doesn’t mean you can go cavorting naked around the wilderness with a rasher of bacon strapped to your pink bits. And the ocean IS one big wet wilderness.

Just like Hugh Heffner’s mansion.

Sharks do not hunt human beings. They aren’t ruthless killing machines out to “get” you. They deserve much more understanding, far more respect and certainly far less blind fear and discrimination. Sharks are magnificent, powerful creatures and incredibly diverse and successful as a group.

Class Dismissed: Your Take-Home Message

Small shark in the ocean with amazing light ray

You are more likely to die from opening a bottle of champagne than by being eaten by a shark. Personally, I’d choose the shark… No one wants “died tragically from flying champagne cork” on their headstone and you didn’t even get to drink the champagne first! Choking, tripping, wind (the weather-related kind), bees and ANTS claim more lives per year than sharks. You love dogs and will readily walk up to one in the park for a scratch and a cuddle, but there are 20 canine-related deaths every year in the United States compared with sharks, which only claim one life every TWO years, according to the endless wisdom of National Geographic News. Hell, even cows pose a greater threat to human safety than sharks!

Sure, there are more cases of shark bites annually (16 in the U.S.) than there are actual fatalities (one every two years), but this is testament to the fact that they don’t like eating us. In most cases, a shark will leave you alone once they find out that you aren’t their type and you can’t say the same for tenacious love-struck human beings.

The Wildlife Video That Will Make You Go "WHOA!" At The End

In an effort to attract attention to their home-shot videos, people often post them with elaborate and totally embellish titles like: “The Totally Best And Most Amazing Video Ever!” The heading of this particular video, however, really does say it all: “Most Amazing Wildlife Video Ever”.

I literally exclaimed “WHOA!!” at the end!

Video Source: “Most Amazing Wildlife Video Ever” uploaded by BestVideosEver911 on YouTube channel https://youtu.be/XPMZ9w8FcaE

The Wildlife Video That Will Make You Go "WHOA!" At The End

In an effort to attract attention to their home-shot videos, people often post them with elaborate and totally embellish titles like: “The Totally Best And Most Amazing Video Ever!” The heading of this particular video, however, really does say it all: “Most Amazing Wildlife Video Ever”.

I literally exclaimed “WHOA!!” at the end!

Video Source: “Most Amazing Wildlife Video Ever” uploaded by BestVideosEver911 on YouTube channel https://youtu.be/XPMZ9w8FcaE

"It's Just Not Natural!"

Gay flag homosexuality

Do you consider yourself to be a normal, conventional, regular, well-adjusted, average, run of the mill, standard or straight-laced human being? Sure, you’ve got your own unique set of characteristics and idiosyncrasies. But, when you get really mad and punch the door or wall, you end up sheepishly cradling your smarting hand just like the rest of us. You don’t morph into a large green raging monster that could give Chuck Norris a run for his money.

“Yes, I suppose so,” you say.

Okay. So, what if I told you that there was a hidden camera, Big Brother style, in your bedroom and it had been capturing everything you’d done over the past month? Would you reconsider your answer? Would you desperately flip through your memories to recall whether or not there could be any footage on those cameras that could have you criminally prosecuted or thrown into the loony bin? There was that time you excavated your nostril and wiped it on your partner’s side of the bed because she was being a bitch. Or what about that really weird habit of yours: you know, the one where you talk out loud when no one’s around and then answer yourself as Darth Vader.

The point is: we all like to think we’re fairly normal. That is, until no one is looking.

SO! It is when the topic of homosexuality comes up in conversation and someone says to me, “it’s just not natural” that I can’t help but wonder what their particular behind-closed-doors vice is. If only I knew, for then I would have the ultimate retort: “It’s not natural? Neither is that thing you do with the peanut butter, the dental floss and your schizophrenic-looking poodle…”

Alas, such solid gold one-liners are saved only for carefully-scripted Hollywood comedies. For our retort to those bigoted individuals who believe homosexuality is an aberrant behaviour, we shall have to use some solid scientific reasoning and the best way to begin any intellectual debate is to look for a precedent.

Where better to start looking than in nature?

Albatrosses love

What is ‘Natural’ Anyway?

“Present in or produced by nature.”

“Faithfully representing nature or life.”

“Of, relating to, or concerning nature.”

There are quite a few dictionary definitions to be found for ‘natural’. Some definitions relate to societal expectations: “established by moral certainty or conviction.” And some relate to the behaviour of hippies: “characterized by spontaneity and freedom from artificiality, affectation, or inhibitions.” Essentially, however, to be ‘natural’ is to have precedent in nature and in our surrounding physical and biological environment. All other definitions have been adapted or even warped to apply to our civilization in one way or another.

The next important step in this analysis is to determine whether homosexuality is in fact unnatural and whether or not there are any precedents of male-on-male or female-on-female love in Earth’s biosphere.

Lots of Animals Here are Queer!

funny gay lion picture

Did you know that homosexual behaviour – as is defined by same sex courtship (wooing), affection (cuddling), shagging (*ahem*), bonding (bro’s before ho’s) and parenting – has been observed in almost 1500 different species of animals? Canadian biologist Bruce Bagemihl performed a comprehensive review of many creatures and critters and found a staggering number of cases of homosexuality between males of a species and females of a species. In 500 of these species, this behaviour has not only been observed, but is actually well-documented.

And forget obscure, little heard-of, abyssal-dwelling sea squishies… homosexuality has been documented in creatures ranging from lizards, giraffes, dolphins, domestic cats and barn owls to koalas, king penguins, salmon, killer whales and chimpanzees. Even LIONS dabble in the regular bromance with each other.

Talk about a gay pride… QUEENS of the jungle, more like.

Gay lions homosexuality

In October of 2006, the University of Oslo’s Norwegian Natural History Museum hosted what must have been a fascinating exhibition on homosexuality in the animal kingdom. It was titled “Against Nature’s Order?” The academic advisor behind the exhibition was a man called Petter Bøckman who made the following brilliant statement:

“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.”

You tell ‘em, girlfriend!

Why, Though?

Affectionate chimpanzees

Animals engage in sexual behaviour for many different reasons. Sex is about so much more than just reproduction; it’s a language in itself. It’s a way to say “I love you”, “I’m sorry”, “you’re the boss” or “you’re MY bitch!” It’s a way of communicating love, anger, affection and power and it’s a way of resolving conflict; of reconnecting. No matter how above the animal kingdom you may consider yourself to be, it’s true even of the human race. There are only two kinds of people who believe sex should exclusively be an act of reproduction and those people either aren’t having any sex (the Pope) or are brought up by warped belief frameworks that permit you to marry your 12-year old niece.

Why, WHY would you believe them?

Giraffes loving each other

Case in Point(y Heels)…

  • 90% of the time male giraffes are actually having sex it’s with another male giraffe.
  • The Bonobo chimpanzee is a devoted bisexual. Boys love girls AND boys. Girls love boys AND girls. They are also one of our closest genetic relatives…
  • One out of every ten couples of black-headed gulls is lesbian and will only copulate with a male in order to reproduce. They devote every other waking second of their lives to each other.
  • Lions are notorious poofters! The males will hang out together in a rugged pack of manly maneliness, but, when the gazelles aren’t looking, they’ll shag around with each other as a way of building loyalty and camaraderie.
  • Dolphins only engage very briefly with the opposite sex during mating time, but males will remain together for many years. Sometimes, just to dispel the mood of a bad day in the office, they’ll engage in bisexual sex orgies.
  • Geese are constantly falling head-over-heels in love. And forget divorce. That’s just not a word in their genetic vocabulary. But 4% to 5% of the time, the two love birds are both male. No matter! They mate for life anyway and dedicate their efforts to raising the eggs donated to them by career girl geese.
  • Female Bonobo chimpanzees are complete and utter Sapphic sluts. I can’t even include a picture for illustration here because my blog would get blacklisted for pornography. So, here’s a picture of a cute kitten instead…

Cute kitten yawning

Class Dismissed: Your Take-Home Message

For many animals, it is a regular and totally natural part of their behaviour to “get down on it” with other members of the same sex. Actually, it couldn’t possibly be said any more eloquently than in the words used by Petter Bøckman during the “Against Nature’s Order” exhibition: 

“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.”

Not an issue indeed. There are hundreds and possibly thousands of homosexual species in the animal kingdom.

But only one that is homophobic.

obert mugabe-zimbabwe-fall

"It's Just Not Natural!"

Gay flag homosexuality

Do you consider yourself to be a normal, conventional, regular, well-adjusted, average, run of the mill, standard or straight-laced human being? Sure, you’ve got your own unique set of characteristics and idiosyncrasies. But, when you get really mad and punch the door or wall, you end up sheepishly cradling your smarting hand just like the rest of us. You don’t morph into a large green raging monster that could give Chuck Norris a run for his money.

“Yes, I suppose so,” you say.

Okay. So, what if I told you that there was a hidden camera, Big Brother style, in your bedroom and it had been capturing everything you’d done over the past month? Would you reconsider your answer? Would you desperately flip through your memories to recall whether or not there could be any footage on those cameras that could have you criminally prosecuted or thrown into the loony bin? There was that time you excavated your nostril and wiped it on your partner’s side of the bed because she was being a bitch. Or what about that really weird habit of yours: you know, the one where you talk out loud when no one’s around and then answer yourself as Darth Vader.

The point is: we all like to think we’re fairly normal. That is, until no one is looking.

SO! It is when the topic of homosexuality comes up in conversation and someone says to me, “it’s just not natural” that I can’t help but wonder what their particular behind-closed-doors vice is. If only I knew, for then I would have the ultimate retort: “It’s not natural? Neither is that thing you do with the peanut butter, the dental floss and your schizophrenic-looking poodle…”

Alas, such solid gold one-liners are saved only for carefully-scripted Hollywood comedies. For our retort to those bigoted individuals who believe homosexuality is an aberrant behaviour, we shall have to use some solid scientific reasoning and the best way to begin any intellectual debate is to look for a precedent.

Where better to start looking than in nature?

Albatrosses love

What is ‘Natural’ Anyway?

“Present in or produced by nature.”

“Faithfully representing nature or life.”

“Of, relating to, or concerning nature.”

There are quite a few dictionary definitions to be found for ‘natural’. Some definitions relate to societal expectations: “established by moral certainty or conviction.” And some relate to the behaviour of hippies: “characterized by spontaneity and freedom from artificiality, affectation, or inhibitions.” Essentially, however, to be ‘natural’ is to have precedent in nature and in our surrounding physical and biological environment. All other definitions have been adapted or even warped to apply to our civilization in one way or another.

The next important step in this analysis is to determine whether homosexuality is in fact unnatural and whether or not there are any precedents of male-on-male or female-on-female love in Earth’s biosphere.

Lots of Animals Here are Queer!

funny gay lion picture

Did you know that homosexual behaviour – as is defined by same sex courtship (wooing), affection (cuddling), shagging (*ahem*), bonding (bro’s before ho’s) and parenting – has been observed in almost 1500 different species of animals? Canadian biologist Bruce Bagemihl performed a comprehensive review of many creatures and critters and found a staggering number of cases of homosexuality between males of a species and females of a species. In 500 of these species, this behaviour has not only been observed, but is actually well-documented.

And forget obscure, little heard-of, abyssal-dwelling sea squishies… homosexuality has been documented in creatures ranging from lizards, giraffes, dolphins, domestic cats and barn owls to koalas, king penguins, salmon, killer whales and chimpanzees. Even LIONS dabble in the regular bromance with each other.

Talk about a gay pride… QUEENS of the jungle, more like.

Gay lions homosexuality

In October of 2006, the University of Oslo’s Norwegian Natural History Museum hosted what must have been a fascinating exhibition on homosexuality in the animal kingdom. It was titled “Against Nature’s Order?” The academic advisor behind the exhibition was a man called Petter Bøckman who made the following brilliant statement:

“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.”

You tell ‘em, girlfriend!

Why, Though?

Affectionate chimpanzees

Animals engage in sexual behaviour for many different reasons. Sex is about so much more than just reproduction; it’s a language in itself. It’s a way to say “I love you”, “I’m sorry”, “you’re the boss” or “you’re MY bitch!” It’s a way of communicating love, anger, affection and power and it’s a way of resolving conflict; of reconnecting. No matter how above the animal kingdom you may consider yourself to be, it’s true even of the human race. There are only two kinds of people who believe sex should exclusively be an act of reproduction and those people either aren’t having any sex (the Pope) or are brought up by warped belief frameworks that permit you to marry your 12-year old niece.

Why, WHY would you believe them?

Giraffes loving each other

Case in Point(y Heels)…

  • 90% of the time male giraffes are actually having sex it’s with another male giraffe.
  • The Bonobo chimpanzee is a devoted bisexual. Boys love girls AND boys. Girls love boys AND girls. They are also one of our closest genetic relatives…
  • One out of every ten couples of black-headed gulls is lesbian and will only copulate with a male in order to reproduce. They devote every other waking second of their lives to each other.
  • Lions are notorious poofters! The males will hang out together in a rugged pack of manly maneliness, but, when the gazelles aren’t looking, they’ll shag around with each other as a way of building loyalty and camaraderie.
  • Dolphins only engage very briefly with the opposite sex during mating time, but males will remain together for many years. Sometimes, just to dispel the mood of a bad day in the office, they’ll engage in bisexual sex orgies.
  • Geese are constantly falling head-over-heels in love. And forget divorce. That’s just not a word in their genetic vocabulary. But 4% to 5% of the time, the two love birds are both male. No matter! They mate for life anyway and dedicate their efforts to raising the eggs donated to them by career girl geese.
  • Female Bonobo chimpanzees are complete and utter Sapphic sluts. I can’t even include a picture for illustration here because my blog would get blacklisted for pornography. So, here’s a picture of a cute kitten instead…

Cute kitten yawning

Class Dismissed: Your Take-Home Message

For many animals, it is a regular and totally natural part of their behaviour to “get down on it” with other members of the same sex. Actually, it couldn’t possibly be said any more eloquently than in the words used by Petter Bøckman during the “Against Nature’s Order” exhibition: 

“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.”

Not an issue indeed. There are hundreds and possibly thousands of homosexual species in the animal kingdom.

But only one that is homophobic.

obert mugabe-zimbabwe-fall

Dolphins Are The True Lords of the Rings

Sure it sounds cute, but you’ve got to see it for yourself, because the bubbles these critters are playing with aren’t your garden variety bubbles. These perfectly spherical vortices of underwater air are also known as bubble rings or toroidal bubbles. What’s even more fascinating is that whales and dolphins use them for both business and pleasure. Humpback whales strategically aim these rings of bubbles at schools of fish, which then act as a kind of net for trapping a delicious bait ball. Dolphins, not surprisingly, see the lighter side of blowing cool bubbles and proceed to play with them, as you can see in this pretty funny video.

 

Source: “Extraordinary Toroidal Vortices” uploaded by Evasius on YouTube Channel http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mHyTOcfF99o

The laws of physics that govern the generation and motion of these rings are the same that govern “smoke rings,” which may have been your teenage party trick, but are actually a serious hobby of active volcanoes and nuclear bombs. This video shows that, too… but, watch it to the end because the last segment is “ooh, aah!” inspiring.