Homosexuality in nature may seem counterintuitive, but it is observed in a number of species around the world.
There is still no accepted explanation based on neurological, chemical or behavioral factors that explains why some animals are homosexual and others heterosexual.
Some scientists believe this may be due to testosterone levels in the womb, although this remains a hotly debated topic that has yet to be proven.
In a book called Homosexual Behavior in Animals: An Evolutionary Perspective, the author, UCL Professor Dr. Volker Sommer: “In a select number of species, homosexual activity is widespread and occurs at levels that approach or sometimes even exceed heterosexual activity.”
Homosexual behavior has been observed in many animals, including macaques, pygmy chimpanzees, dolphins, orcas and humans.
Some studies estimate that homosexuality is widespread in up to 95 percent of all animal species.
When it comes to the prevalence of homosexuality in nature, there are two basic schools of thought.
One theory is that homosexuality in animals needs no explanation because animals are naturally both homosexual and heterosexual.
It seems irrational that it survives as a trait since it hinders the ability to reproduce directly. However, many speculate that it allows individuals to ensure that their genetic material is indirectly passed down through generations as they are able to care for family members with offspring.
For example, helping to raise a sister’s offspring.
Similar behavior that serves the “greater good” of a large group has been observed in various species.
For example, in family wolf packs only one pair of animals breeds – the alpha and the beta. The other animals provide protection, nutrition and care for the bedding.
This allows their genetic material to be passed on to the next generation indirectly through their sister, brother, mother, etc. or whatever the kinship may be.
The same applies to animals that have exceeded their reproductive age.
For example, female elephants who are now too old to have offspring.
They still play a crucial role in protecting the young, as the matriarch leads the group to food and water spots and to hunt potential predators.
These measures ensure the survival of the young and vulnerable members of their family and, in turn, help ensure that their genetic material is passed on indirectly through the generations.
A similar concept can be applied to homosexuality, some experts claim.
Without the ability to reproduce directly, they are able to devote energy to caring for the offspring of their family members.
Another theory suggests that homosexual behavior contributes to the successful transmission of genes in the long term, as young animals “practice” mating techniques and methods of attracting a member of the opposite sex.
The frequency of homosexuality in different species remains unknown as ongoing research finds further nuances of homosexuality in nature.
It continues to occur in more species, but the level of homosexuality in individual species is not studied well enough to determine whether homosexuality is becoming more common.