"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

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"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

Earth’s Top 10 Weirdest Animals, PART 2

Welcome to the second installment of this two-part blog series on animals you’d likely encounter in a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not zoo if the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not franchise did indeed have a zoo. If you haven’t read Part 1 you can check it out by clicking the following link:

Read Part 1. I mean, who reads Part 2 before reading Part 1? Are you dyslexic? Are you an anarchist trying to upset world order? Or are you another hipster on yet another fruitless quest for originality?

Just kidding.

Here are the next 5 super strange critters on my list!

Deep Sea Pompeii Worm

Alvinella pompejana 

Deep sea pompeii worm

Image Source: news.sciencemag.org

Contrary to appearances, this is not some outlandish proctology case study. It’s a very special kind of deep-sea worm that belongs in the cool-sounding category of the “extremophiles,” which are organisms that thrive in extreme environments. The neighborhoods of choice for Pompeii worms are hydrothermal vents and volcanic fissures, especially around the active plate boundaries in the Pacific Ocean. Also known as bristle worms, these rather hideous deep-sea squishies are a very recent addition to our taxonomic system, having only been discovered off the coast of the Galápagos Islands in the 1980’s.

Named After: Pompeii worms are named after the Roman city that got completely leveled by Mount Vesuvius’ epic tantrum in AD79. It’s kind of ironic that these worms, which thrive in volcanically active areas, are named after a city that did anything but thrive in a volcanically active area.

Physical Address: Pacific Ocean

It’s On This List Because: Pompeii worms live in water that is close to boiling point! They’re also covered in hairs that aren’t hairs at all: they’re stringy colonies of bacteria that are thought to help them withstand the perpetual heat they live in. To repay them, the worms secrete a delicious gooey snot that the bacteria feed on. Bloody charming.

Echidna

Zaglossus attenboroughi

echidna strange animals

Image Source: http://www.wildlifesydney.com.au

The echidna is just one of Australia’s many and very unique offerings to the animal kingdom. They look very much like hedgehogs, with a bristling back of spines that would deter even the hungriest, most desperate and stupid of predators. Like the duckbilled platypus, the echidna is a monotreme; the order of mammals that lays eggs. Yes. A mammal that lays eggs.

If you want to impress an echidna, lay out a picnic spread of termites and ants and they’ll hoover up the lot. There are three different species of echidna in Australia and one of them is named after my third favorite old man, Sir David Attenborough. My dad comes first and Santa Claus a close second.

Close Relatives Include: Duck-billed platypus.

Physical Address: New Guinea and Australia.

It’s On This List Because: It’s a mammal that lays eggs. I mean, could you imagine walking in on your cat sitting on a clutch of eggs? So weird!

Sphynx Hairless Cat

sphynx hairless cats

In Egyptian mythology, the Sphynx was a great and terrible beast that had the head of a man and the body of a lion. In fact, the Sphynx was such a douchebag, it would get a kick out of posing travellers impossible riddles that – if they got wrong, which they invariable would – would land them up as lunch. Today, however, the Sphynx has been very much downgraded from merciless flesh-eating beast to a bald, comical looking cat. Whether it’s divine justice or coincidence that these two share the same name is yet to be proven by science.

Around the 1960’s some idiot got it into his or her head that it would be fun to own a hairless cat and rather than simply shave a regular domestic cat, they began a selective breeding program that has resulted in the breed known as the Sphynx. They’re strange-looking beasts, with velvety downy skin, huge sardonic eyes and prominent cheekbones; an aesthetic they share with most runway models.

Closest Relatives: The Egyptian Sphynx (yet to be proven by science)

Physical Address: Yours possibly… if you like your cats hairless.

It’s On This List Because: It’s a bald cat that doesn’t seem to know it, or care.

Hispaniolan Solenodon

Solenodon paradoxus

Solenodon picture

Photo Source: Miguel A. Landestoy T. 2007

Okay, so I KNOW you’ve never heard of this one before! In fact, I had to slowly pronounce the name of this critter about 7 times before I could say it out loud properly. The Hispaniolan solenodon is not a Latin dinosaur*. Rather, it’s a long-snouted nocturnal mammal that – get this – is venomous! The Hispaniolan solenodon gets its very name from the unique structure of its teeth (dont meaning tooth in Latin), which are capable of delivering a shot of venom into its prey or enemies. This special critter is found exclusively on the island of Hispaniola, hence its name, although there is another specie of solenodon on Cuba.

*Please excuse my culturally inaccurate joke.

Physical Address: Of the two surviving species of solenodons, the Hispaniolan solenodon can be found hanging out on the island of Hispaniola (shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti) and the other smoking cigars in Cuba.

It’s On This List Because: It’s a rodent-like critter that’s venomous! Also, solenodons closely resemble the primitive mammals that were alive towards the end of the reign of the dinosaurs.

Goblin Shark

Mitsukurina owstoni

goblin shark pictureThe goblin shark is one of those creatures whose name pretty much nails their appearance. It’s probably a good thing these animals dwell at ocean depths where no sunlight filters through, because if girl goblin sharks saw just how ugly boy goblin sharks are, the species would likely go into extinction. In fact, the first person who accidentally discovered this species reportedly thought it was a regular shark that had been accidentally or genetically disfigured.

Goblin sharks usually grow to between 3 to 4 meters in length and use their very large and sensitive schnozz to sense out the weak electrical impulses generated by other deep-sea animals. They typically hang out below 100m depth and the only reason we know they exist is because the odd one gets dredged up by deep-sea fishing trawlers.

Physical Address: Goblin sharks adore the inky darkness of the deep ocean, so you’ll find them around submarine canyons and upper continental slopes.

It’s On This List Because: It could literally eat an apple through a tennis racket with those teeth and its nose would make a Jewish banker jealous.

What’s Your Suggestion?

That concludes my list! So, apart from your husband, what do you find to be the strangest animal and why?