Sunday, March 25, 2007

Danni ponders...How many mammals (including humans) are monogamous?

How many mammals (including humans) are monogamous?

Not as many as you might think. According to an article on social relationships, less than 3% of mammals are monogamous.

This article from Emory University echoes the figure and explains that among animals, birds are by far the most monogamous. "Over 90% of bird species pair up exclusively to mate and rear chicks together." Monogamy makes more sense for our feathered friends because "both mother and father are equally able to provide food for the chicks."

So is excess hanky-panky among mammals good or bad? Scientific research suggests that large mammals that are monogamous may be more likely to become extinct. "There is some evidence that hunters take more males than females from populations." This could result in fewer available males for monogamous relationships.

But family value proponents need not despair -- there is also evidence that monogamy is beneficial for some animals.

Are some animals gay?

The sexual orientation of animals is one topic we know little about. Dogs, for instance, have been known to take great interest in our legs, but whether that means ol' Fido is gay, straight, or simply has a leg fetish, we can't say. However, studies on the overall topic do exist. A simple search on "are some animals gay?" resulted in a slew of articles.

One of the more interesting pieces comes from National Geographic. Written by James Owen, the article mentions several instances of animals engaging in homosexual behavior. Two male penguins at New York's Central Park Zoo, Roy and Silo, have been "inseparable" for six years and have sex "while ignoring potential female mates." Other examples cited include male ostriches, flamingos, and female Japanese macaques.

This article from the San Francisco Chronicle mentions that "scientists have found homosexual behavior throughout the animal world." Not surprisingly, these discoveries have led to debates over what conclusions can be drawn. Some believe this proves homosexuality is "natural" and not a choice. Others disagree.

No matter where you stand on the issue, one thing is apparent. As Marlene Zuk, a professor of biology at UC Riverside, puts it, sex in the animal kingdom isn't always just about reproduction.

Bisexuality in Animals

is the sexual orientation which refers to the aesthetic, romantic, or sexual desire for individuals of either gender or of either sex.

Although observed in a variety of forms in human societies and in the animal kingdom throughout recorded history, many non-human animal species also exhibit bisexual behavior. This is, of course, common in hermaphroditic animals, but is also known in many other species. Examples of mammals include the bonobo Chimpanzee, orca, and bottlenose dolphin. Examples of avians include some species of gulls and Humboldt penguins. Biological examples are predominate in fish, flatworms, and crustaceans.[10] Bisexuality (behavioral and biological) has been observed in over 500 species.

Prevelance of Bisexuality

Some modern surveys report about 2%-6% of modern western populations as bisexual, but there are still many methodological difficulties with regard to randomness and size of the sample population, and the accuracy of self-reports of such personal information. (The accuracy of these numbers is disputed.) Different studies also use different standards for bisexuality. Some studies ignore bisexual phenomena entirely, or separate it into same-sex and opposite-sex components. Reported results disagree over whether homosexuality is more common than bisexuality (with various definitions for each). Anecdotal reports from areas outside the west suggest much higher rates of bisexual expression.

Sigmund Freud, arguably the first scholar to write an analysis of human sexuality, theorized that every person has the ability to become bisexual at some time in his or her life. He based this on the idea that enjoyable experiences of sexuality with the same gender, whether sought or unsought, acting on it or being fantasized, in social upbringing becomes an attachment to his or her needs and desires.

Some studies, notably Alfred Kinsey's Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948) and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (1953), have indicated that the majority of people appear to be at least somewhat bisexual. The studies report that most people have some attraction to either sex, although usually one sex is preferred. According to some (falsely attributed to Kinsey), only about 5-10% of the population can be considered to be fully heterosexual or homosexual. On the other hand, an even smaller minority has no distinct preference for one gender or the other.

Despite common misconceptions, bisexuality does not require that a person is attracted equally to both sexes. In fact, people who have a distinct but not exclusive preference for one sex over the other can and often do identify as bisexual. Some recent studies, including one by controversial researcher J. Michael Bailey which attracted media attention in 2005, purported to find that bisexuality is extremely rare in men, but such studies have typically worked from the assumption that a person is only truly bisexual if they exhibit virtually equal arousal responses to both opposite-sex and same-sex stimuli, and have consequently dismissed the self-identification of people whose arousal patterns showed even a mild preference for one sex. (Bailey, in fact, found that approximately one-third of the men he studied, a percentage that remained consistent across all three orientation groups, were not aroused by any of the sexual stimuli that he presented, a finding which he dismissed as irrelevant to his conclusions.)

So, to prevent extinction in humankind, fight against monogamy! We're doing out part! How about you?

xoxo, Danni (and B)

Live life to the fullest....
Work like you don't need the money
Love like you've never been hurt and
Dance like no one's watching!

No comments: