Gay Penguins Of Convenience?

The Penguin Post has learned that the high male-to-female ratio in a colony of king penguins in Antarctica may explain why lots of males are pairing up at least temporarily, until they can find a more preferable (and reproductive) mate, according to the BBC News.  In a study published in the journal Ethology, researchers found that more than 28 percent of the colony birds showed courtship displays to penguins of the same sex, with the majority being between males. Displays with potential partners included closing their eyes, stretching their heads skyward and moving them in a half-circle to take peeks at one another, BBC notes.  Even so, only two pairs bonded by learning each other’s calls (an essential step in the penguin-pairing process) and both couples were later observed caring for eggs in male-female pairs. The researchers suggest both a high male-female ratio along with high testosterone levels in males may explain the homosexual “flirting.” However, that doesn’t explain female-female displays.

The king penguins are not alone. According to University of Oslo zoologist Petter Böckman, about 1,500 animal species are known to practice same-sex coupling, including bears, gorillas, flamingos, owls, salmon and many others. More than 130 bird species are known to engage in homosexual behaviors. In a recent study, the sex that partook in more same-sex canoodling for birds was the one with fewer parenting responsibilities (because they could).


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