October 26, 2006

From Jedidiah Palosaari:

Re: A wild, and gay, kingdom (Oct. 24): Seems like a major problem with this study is a confusion of terms. Perhaps because it’s on the bridge of two different disciplines. I would imagine (not knowing for sure) that in anthropology, sex refers to two individuals enjoying each other in reference to their reproductive organs, often with orgasm. However, in biology sex refers to the mixture of gametes. Unless Boeckman has a rather novel proposal for how this might occur between two sperm or two eggs, gay interactions between animals are not sex, by biological definitions. There is no way they can be. Hence previous researches are quite correct to not refer to this as sex.

Jedidiah Palosaari
Seattle, WA


Anonymous Frederick Colbourne said...

Yes, most biologists would agree with your way of defining sex. Primatologists would probably be divided.

Our closest cousins are collectively known by the name "chimpanzee", but this name should probably be reserved for Pan troglodytes.

The term "bonobo" designates the rarer Pan paniscus (AKA pigmy chimpanzee). The bonobo is noted for using sex to establish and maintain congenial social relationships.

By contrast, sex among the common chimpanzees takes the form of dominance-submissiveness behaviour, sometimes marked by violence.

Sex among apes has featured as a topic at symposia on human sexuality. The perennial question is: Are humans more like bonobos or common chimpanzees?

Bonobo: The Forgotten Ape, Frans de Waal and Frans Lanting, 1997. This is a beautiful essay by a professor in primate research and a wildlife photographer.

Demonic Males, Wrangham,1996. A thought-provoking and often disturbing book by a Harvard professor of anthropology with detailed discussions of ape behaviour.

November 23, 2006 7:26 PM  

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