Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Gay Beetles

Why do beetles go gay? The answer has eluded us for ages, but now science is on it:

Gay sex – in beetles, at least – gives males a chance to indirectly fertilise females they may never encounter directly.

Homosexual copulations are common in insects, where they pose the same conundrum as in mammals: what evolutionary advantage, if any, might such apparently fruitless activity provide?

Over the years, biologists have proposed a range of explanations. Homosexual activity might, for example, help males practise for straight sex, or they might offer males a way to assert dominance over one another.
Well, yes, I suppose. But isn't it also possible that several thousand years ago, the beetle god created beetles in his image and placed them in a garden? And then instructed them never, ever to roll around a particular ball of dung? But one of the beetles -- the female, it's always the female -- fell under the thrall of a slick-talking nematode who convinced her to go ahead and enjoy the dung, after which she talked the male beetle into enjoying the dung, whereupon the beetles were expelled from the garden. From there the story more or less writes itself: beetles now bear the taint of sin and undertake all manner of transgressions against the beetle god, including but not limited to gay sex.

Who knows? One version seems just as plausible as the other. As you weigh them, follow the link to see actual video of beetles engaged in gay sex. It will forever change the way you think about beetles unless you already think they're gay.

(H/T Andrew Sullivan)

1 comment:

Aimée said...

"...fell under the thrall of a slick-talking nematode" - nice touch :)