Against Nature? An exhibition on animal homosexuality

Few may have noticed that recently the Natural History Museum of the University of Oslo opened an exhibition on homosexuality in the animal kingdom

The exhibit puts on display a small selection among the more than 1500 species where homosexuality have been observed. This fascinating story of the animals’ secret life is told by means of models, photos, texts and specimens. The visitor will be confronted with all sorts of creatures from tiny insects to enormous spermwhales.

The website shows some interesting examples of gay animals and provides some useful references.

For instance a recent book titled Homosexual Behaviour in Animals: An Evolutionary Perspective by Volker Sommer (Editor),Paul L. Vasey (Editor)

Book Description Behavioural observations from both the field and captivity indicate that same-sex sexual interactions are widespread throughout the animal kingdom, and occur quite frequently in certain non-human species. Proximate studies of these phenomena have yielded important insights into genetic, hormonal and neural correlates. In contrast, there has been a relative paucity of research on the evolutionary aspects. Homosexual Behaviour in Animals seeks to readdress this imbalance by exploring animal same-sex sexual behaviour from an evolutionary perspective. Contributions focus on animals that routinely engage in homosexual behaviour and include birds, dolphin, deer, bison and cats, as well as monkey and apes, such as macaques, gorillas and bonobos. A final chapter looks at human primates. This book will appeal to graduate students and researchers in evolutionary biology, biological anthropology, zoology, evolutionary psychology, animal behaviour and anyone interested in the current state of knowledge in this area of behavioural studies.

The studies have also caused some to doubt Darwin’s theory of sexual selection such as Joan Roughgarden who is mentioned in an older Seed article. Joan Roughgarden, a professor of biology at Stanford University, wrote a book on this topic titled Evolution’s Rainbow.

Professor Roughgarden proposes that Darwinian theory is flawed when it comes to sexual selection.

As Paul Z. Myers, a biologist at the University of Minnesota, put it, “I think much of what Roughgarden says is very interesting. But I think she discounts many of the modifications that have been made to sexual selection since Darwin originally proposed it. So in that sense, her Darwin is a straw man. You don’t have to dismiss the modern version of sexual selection in order to explain social bonding or homosexuality.”

I am looking forward to the days when the ID movement will embrace Professor Roughgarden into its big tent of Darwin Doubters