Biological Exuberance

Biological Exuberance

Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity

Book - 1999
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A Publishers Weekly Best Book
One of the New York Public Library's "25 Books to Remember" for 1999

Homosexuality in its myriad forms has been scientifically documented in more than 450 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, and other animals worldwide. Biological Exuberance is the first comprehensive account of the subject, bringing together accurate, accessible, and nonsensationalized information. Drawing upon a rich body of zoological research spanning more than two centuries, Bruce Bagemihl shows that animals engage in all types of nonreproductive sexual behavior. Sexual and gender expression in the animal world displays exuberant variety, including same-sex courtship, pair-bonding, sex, and co-parenting--even instances of lifelong homosexual bonding in species that do not have lifelong heterosexual bonding.

Part 1, "A Polysexual, Polygendered World," begins with a survey of homosexuality, transgender, and nonreproductive heterosexuality in animals and then delves into the broader implications of these findings, including a valuable perspective on human diversity. Bagemihl also examines the hidden assumptions behind the way biologists look at natural systems and suggests a fresh perspective based on the synthesis of contemporary scientific insights with traditional knowledge from indigenous cultures.

Part 2, "A Wondrous Bestiary," profiles more than 190 species in which scientific observers have noted homosexual or transgender behavior. Each profile is a verbal and visual "snapshot" of one or more closely related bird or mammal species, containing all the documentation required to support the author's often controversial conclusions.

Lavishly illustrated and meticulously researched, filled with fascinating facts and astonishing descriptions of animal behavior, Biological Exuberance is a landmark book that will change forever how we look at nature.

Publisher: New York, NY : St. Martin's, 1999
ISBN: 9780312253776
Characteristics: 752 p. : ill.


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Jan 22, 2015

- p. 60/61: Male Bonobos have a form of mutual genital rubbing known as penis fencing that is unique to same-sex interactions.

'Male Bottlenose Dolphins often form lifelong pair-bonds with each other. Adolescent and younger males typically live in all-male groups in which homosexual activity is common; within these groups, a male begins to develop a strong bond with a particular partner (usually of the same age) with whom he will spend the rest of his life. The two Dolphins become constant companions, often traveling widely; although sexual activity probably declines as they get older, it may continue to be a regular feature of such partnerships. Paired males sometimes take turns guarding or remaining vigilant while their partner rests. They also defend their mates against predators such as sharks and protect them while they are healing from wounds inflicted during predators' attacks. Sometimes three males form a tightly bonded trio. On the death of his partner, a male may spend a long time searching for a new male companion -- usually unsuccessfully, since most other males in the community are already paired and will not break their bonds. If, however, he can find another "widower" whose male partner has died, the two may become a couple...

The lives of male Bottlenose Dolphins are characterized by extensive bisexuality, combined with periods of exclusive homosexuality. As adolescents and young males, they have regular homosexual interactions in all-male groups, sometimes alternating with heterosexual activity. From age 10 onward, most male Dolphins form pair-bonds with another male, and because they do not usually father calves until they are 20-25 years old, this can be an extended period -- 10-15 years -- of principally same-sex interaction. Later, when they begin mating heterosexually, they still retain their primary male pair-bonds, and in some populations male pairs and trios cooperate in herding females or in interacting homosexually with Spotted Dolphins. '

'Male West Indian Manatees of all ages regularly engage in intense homosexual activities. In a typical encounter, two males embrace, rub their genital openings against each other, and then unsheathe or erect their penises and rub them together, often to ejaculation. During a homosexual mating, the two males often tumble to the bottom, thrusting against each other and wallowing in the mud as they clasp each other tightly. A wide variety of positions are used, including embracing in head-to-tail and sideways positions, often with interlocking penises or flipper-penis contact. All of these are distinct from the position used for heterosexual copulation, in which the male typically swims underneath the female on his back and mates with her upside down. Lasting for up to two minutes, homosexual copulations are generally four to eight times longer than heterosexual ones. Before they engage in sexual activity, males often "kiss" each other by touching their muzzles at the surface of the water. In addition, several other types of affectionate and tactile activities are a part of homosexual interactions, including mouthing and caressing of each other’s body, nibbling or nuzzling of the genital region, and riding by one male on the back of the other (a behavior also seen in heterosexual interactions).'

Oct 20, 2009

Not only an exhaustive collection of factual behavior studies that are anomalous under the traditional hetero biased social mindset, but also a challenge to the nature of homosexuality. Too often society polarizes hetero/homo sexuality which nature, it seems, does not. Rather she creates a broad spectrum of behavior that cuts across and through our preconceptions of that polarity and of what is natural.


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Jan 22, 2015

“If you look at some of the other passages in Bagemihl, what you'll see is that four-legged animals often mount each other and rub -- the way your dog will do your leg. That's frottage -- sexual rubbing.” — Bill Weintraub


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Jan 22, 2015

- p. 19: Clitoral rubbing or other types of genital tribadism are found in female Bonobos, Gorillas, and Rhesus Macaques (among others), while males in several species (e.g., White-handed Gibbons, West Indian Manatees, and Gray Whales) rub their penises together or on each other's body. In male Bonobos, mutual genital rubbing sometimes takes the form of an activity with the colorful name of "penis fencing," in which the males hang suspended by their arms and rub their erect organs against each other.

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