Same-sex sex between animals arose for a very good reason – research

By Jurassic JennMay 5, 2024 11:04 AMScience
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Same-sex sex between animals arose for a very good reason
Same-sex sex between animals arose for a very good reason. Source: www.washingtonpost.com

Scientists have discovered why same-sex sex between animals has evolved.

This is stated in a study published in the journal SSPDaily.

Sex between same-sex couples has been recorded in more than 1500 species of animals, including all major vertebrate groups such as fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. It has also been observed in the major invertebrate groups: insects, spiders, needlefish such as starfish, and nematodes, which are tiny parasitic worms.

Same-sex mating is particularly common in primates, particularly among lemurs and monkeys. In total, they have been observed in at least 51 species.

Over the years, a number of theories have been proposed as to why animals engage in same-sex sexual behavior – meaning only mating, not the monogamous same-sex relationships that also occur. These include cases of mistaken identity, limited availability of opposite-sex partners, and sexual disorders.

However, a review of research conducted by scientists from Spain shows that this behavior has much deeper and more important roots. By tracking the evolution of same-sex sexual behavior among mammals, a team led by Jose Gomez found that it is more likely to develop in social species such as bonobos, chimpanzees, bighorn sheep, lions, and wolves. This led them to suggest that this behavior helps to establish and maintain positive social relationships.

The team also found that male same-sex sexual behavior is more likely to evolve in species where males often kill each other as adults.

In this scenario, same-sex sex may be used to mitigate group tensions and reduce the risk of violent conflict between males.

However, given the prevalence of same-sex sexual behavior in both males and females across a wide range of animals, the authors noted that their study does not rule out other theories underlying its evolution.

Same-sex behavior has only been studied in a minority of mammalian species, so further research is needed to better understand its evolution and benefits.

In addition, the authors emphasize that their findings are not related to the evolution of sexual orientation in one particular primate species, humans. This is because the study only takes into account short-term physical interactions associated with same-sex sexual behavior, not permanent sexual preferences.

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