I bet you didn’t know that same-sex relationships are common across many species in the world. This may come as a shock at first, given the history of same-sex relations in humans in the past. But believe it or not, homosexuality is typical in the biological world! However, the topic of homosexuality in animals is not nearly as well studied as it is in humans and through research of several different animals, the causes of these behaviors have been shown actually be quite different across species. Some researchers are also concerned about the evolutionary consequences of same-sex behaviors.
The Laysan Albatross, a gull-like sea bird found predominantly in the Hawaiian Islands, have been known to join in pairs of females in order to cooperatively rear young. The reason for this is still unknown. In Drosophila, the fruit fly, some individuals lack the gene to determine sexes and as a result, males will court other males. Bottlenose dolphins, a widely researched species, are known to engage in same-sex behaviors as a way to bond with their tight-nit groups. These reasons for same sex-behaviors are vastly different and more research is needed on other species to decipher similarities and differences between them.
Nathan Bailey, a postdoctoral biology researcher at URC, has started to examine the importance of evolutionary consequences of same-sex behaviors. Because this is a behavior that does not lead to reproduction, it most likely will face evolutionary consequences in some form or another. These behaviors can have an impact on the social structure of populations because it is removing individuals who are available for mating and reproducing. In order to better understand the genetic and neural reasons for homosexuality in animals, researcher have started to turn towards the same approaches taken in human research in the same area.
Posted by Taylor Irwin (2)