In case you’re a little behind on your studies, let us clue you in: There was once this dude named Charles Darwin. He was all about evolution (as opposed to creationism) and wrote the famous book “The Origin of Species,” in which he talks about many now-famous theories, such as the theory of evolution. Darwin’s theory of evolution says several things, but the one we care about here is this: That he believed animals would fail if they didn’t successfully breed with those of the opposite sex. While presumably logical, his theory has since been called into question with the discovery of at least 10% of species in the animal kingdom that engage in homosexual/bisexual behavior, yet continue to prevail. How can this be? Quite simply, these species’ homosexual (and bisexual) behaviors often created advantages, especially in the face of adversity. While some appear to simply be screwing around for fun or pairing off for love, others have adapted to survive. Here are 4 of the best known examples of homosexuality in the wildlife.
With their nests primarily in Hawaii, US, female Laysan albatrosses have been witnessed many times over engaging in what could be read as lifelong lesbian (or bisexual) relationships. When it comes to nesting, these birds pair off in order to successfully raise their chicks one at a time, often keeping their chosen partners again and again in a type of marriage. Particularly on the island of Oahu, 31% of albatross pairings are made up of two unrelated females. The birds nuzzle, bill kiss, and rear their singular chicks after mating with a sneaky male from a heterosexual pairing.
It’s been argued that this is a form of evolutionary survival because 1) there are more females than males, usually dominating at about 60% of their Hawaiian population, and 2) female couples are able to always choose the fittest male for their singular offspring each mating season. However, these females nonetheless display all the usual signs of courtship, bonding, and affection displayed by their male-female counterparts. And the longest known case of a female couple lasted 19 years!
It’s true that male lions are considered kings of the jungle because of their ability to rule over harems of lionesses, getting all territorial when another male tries to hone in on his. But it’s also true that, despite all of these supposed patriarchal perks, male African lions have also tossed aside their privileges to not only sexually engage with other males, but create entire same-sex groups. While some of these groups are only temporary–consider them a bit like a male orgy–others permanently prowl around as a unit, giving the term “gay pride” a whole new meaning.
The evolutionary purpose for this African lion behavior is still unknown, but there is at least one agreeable theory: lions have been labeled as having one of the strongest sex drives of any cat species. If a female isn’t available or receptive, why not go for a male? Makes sense to us.
What’s with the savannah, right? While giraffes haven’t been witnessed partnering or mating with the same sex for life, many young male giraffes have been documented at least experimenting with homosexual/bisexual behavior. Before settling down with a female, these boys have been known to engage with each other in mating techniques such as nuzzling, “hugs,” neck massages, full-body contact, and tongue kissing. While some of these encounters are one-night stands, others will bond for a kind of sweet, short, summer romance. Then they part and run off with girls.
In short, the evolutionary purpose behind this sexual experimentation is likely for the boys to educate themselves in the ways of love and prepare for the time when they are expected to mate with a female. May as well get the virgin jitters out of the way.
You may have heard about these little buggers before. And if you haven’t, well, now’s the time. Bonobos are kind of like a miniature chimpanzee, only considered one of the most intelligent animals currently on the planet and the closest relatives of homo sapiens. And what do they do with their high intelligence? Have sex. Lots and lots of sex. Penetrative sex, oral sex, masturbation, genital-to-genital rubbing…they pretty much have all of it covered. Their pairings (or sometimes more-than-pairings) can include any combination of males and females, showing that they just plain don’t care about the anatomy of their partner(s) as long as the activity feels good. We could probably conclude that these creatures are just plain horny, but in fact, their activities have a much more purposeful role. Being peace-loving animals that prefer love instead of anger, they frequently solve their disagreements and create strong social bonds through their sexual exploration. It’s even used as a form of stress reduction!
So now that you know of some of the best examples of homosexuality/bisexuality flourishing in its natural state, it’s time to flaunt it to all of your straight friends. And if you have a favorite gay/bi species, let us know in the comments below!