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 The evolution of homosexuality
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15831 Posts

Posted - 06/01/2006 :  15:38:32  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message
(I deliberately titled this one to suck in all the fundies here for a good donneybrook. Like titling a thread in the Religion forum, "Hail Satan.")

Homosexuality seems to be widespread in many different animals species, per a Wikipedia article:

Squawk and Milou Male chinstrap
penguins, one of several homosexual
pairs at the Central Park Zoo.

Homosexual behavior in animals

Homosexual behaviour is common in the animal kingdom, especially in species closer to humans on the evolutionary scale, such as the great apes. Georgetown University professor Janet Mann has specifically theorised that homosexuality, at least in dolphins, is an evolutionary advantage that minimises intraspecies aggression, especially among males.

* Male penguin couples have been documented to mate for life, build nests together, and to use a stone as a surrogate egg in nesting and brooding. In 2004, the Central Park Zoo in the United States replaced one male couple's stone with a fertile egg, which the couple then raised as their own offspring.[10] German and Japanese zoos have also reported homosexuality among their penguins. This phenomenon has also been reported at Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium in Auckland, New Zealand.
* Courtship, mounting, and full anal penetration between bulls is common among American Bison. The Mandan nation Okipa festival concludes with a ceremonial enactment of this behaviour, to "ensure the return of the buffalo in the coming season." [citation needed] Also, mounting of one female by another is common among cattle. (See also, Freemartin. Freemartins occur because of clearly causal hormonal factors at work during gestation.)
* Homosexuality in male sheep (found in 6-10% of rams) is associated with variations in cerebral mass distribution and chemical activity. A study reported in Endocrinology concluded that biological and physiological factors are in effect.[11] These findings are similar to human findings studied by Simon LeVay.

Despite it being a behavior that does not directly lead to reproduction, I would think that homosexuality must serve some important evolutionary "purpose" in the survival of species, to be so widespread a phenomenon in nature.

Your opinions, and your evidence?

Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.

Edited by - HalfMooner on 06/01/2006 15:58:55

SFN Regular

510 Posts

Posted - 06/01/2006 :  23:45:06   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Ghost_Skeptic a Private Message
Perhaps homosexuality does not offer any survival advantage itself but is the result of having 2 copies of a gene that it is advantagous when you get one copy. I am thinking of something analagous to sickle cell anemia. One copy of the sickle cell gene confers resitance to malaria, but 2 copies reslut in a debilitating illness. Having one copy of the "Gay gene" gives some sort of survival or reproductive advantage - perhaps understanding the oppoiste sex better. Having two copies however prevents passing on one's genes.

Another alternative is analagous to the evolutionary basis of altruism. An individual who sacrifices their life or reproductive success for the greater benefit of the pack/herd/flock/tribe is helping perpetuate their genes indirectly be helping their close relatives. Perhaps homosexuals were the fiercest and bravest gaurdians of the tribe like the Sacred Band of Thebes.

This puts the Military discrimination against gays in new light.

"You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. / You can send a kid to college but you can't make him think." - B.B. King

History is made by stupid people - The Arrogant Worms

"The greater the ignorance the greater the dogmatism." - William Osler

"Religion is the natural home of the psychopath" - Pat Condell

"The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter" - Thomas Jefferson
Edited by - Ghost_Skeptic on 06/02/2006 09:02:55
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3834 Posts

Posted - 06/02/2006 :  02:13:20   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
Don't forget that genetic mutations are random. Selection pressures do not result in only perfect selections for many reasons.
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