Some species of animals exhibit homosexual behavior

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HOMOSEXUAL behavior seems to violate nature’s need for procreation, but recent research studies have found out that homosexual behavior in animals may be much more common than previously thought.

Several researchers have discovered that humans are not the only mammals that practice and express homosexuality and that evolution may have something to do with this behavior.

For instance, the University of Oslo’s “Against Nature?” was an exhibit last 2006 to 2007 that showed about 1,500 animal species that practice homosexual behavior, like in mammals such as bisons, bears and rats; in fish species such as salmon; reptiles like lizards; amphibians like frogs; and insects such as house flies.

Although Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection predicts evolutionary disadvantages for animals that fail to pass along traits via reproduction due to homosexuality, occurrences of homosexual behavior in more than 10 percent of species in the world seem to contradict this belief.

Sociobiologists—or scientists studying social behaviors in animals—found out that homosexual interaction between animals can pave way to the genetic evolution of “advantageous social behavior.”

Advantageous social behavior as what other sociobiologists would call as “social adaptive gestures” are acts that occur when an animal wants to avoid conflict.

These behaviors manifest in actions such as courtship to instinctive factors such as detecting the presence of predators.

But critics of this phenomenon believe that same-sex sexual interactions in animals are not identical with human homosexual behavior and cannot be truly labelled as such.

They also believe that acts such as mounting or caressing members of the same sex are only to display dominance, and not necessarily exhibit homosexual behavior.

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According to Mae Lowe Diesmos of the College of Science Department of Biological Sciences, homosexuality in animals may be evident but they are only practiced in a small percentage in animals.

“This behavior is a sign that there could be changes in the chemical response in their brains or when the sex ratio is not balanced,” she said in an interview.

The zoologist added that homosexual behavior is one way of telling that an animal is experiencing a disturbance in their physiological cycle. However, it must be noted that this is still different from human sexuality.

“Just because it is natural in the animal kingdom, it does not necessarily mean that this is also applicable or true in humans. Human sexuality is far more complex,” she said.

Diesmos added internal factors such as hormonal changes and anatomical makeup can greatly affect the behavior of animals.

“Behavior is governed by hormones, in a scientific point of view these [brain] chemicals can be controlled so that a behavior which is not [supposed to be] normal can occur,” she said.

UST biologist Thomas Pavia added that some animals do not simply exhibit homosexual behavior, but are also biologically homosexual.

“Ninety-nine percent of invertebrates are hermaphrodite—half male, half female,” he said. “There are even amphibians that possess two sets of reproductive organs.”

Hermaphroditism is when an animal has both ovaries and testes. Almost all earthworms, flatworms, sponges, snails, other invertebrates and fish species are hermaphrodites. However, this occurrence is very rare on vertebrates like mammals and reptiles.

Pavia said homosexual behavior is more observed in places with high density or populous areas.

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“Perhaps, we could say that homosexuality [in animals] exists because it is a nature’s way of controlling a population especially when there’s a competition between animals,” he said.

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