Sunday, July 23, 2006

SEED takes a gay walk on the wild side

The June/July issue of the science magazine SEED reports on some controversial findings of a sex-changed researcher about the number of mammals, birds, fish and bugs that practice homosexuality. Jonah Lehrer writes about Joan Roughgarden, a former man who underwent a sex-change operation and who says:"The more socially complex the animal, the more sexual `deviance' it exhibits.

"That "deviance" includes all-male giraffe orgies and rampant lesbianism among macaques, both of which serve valuable purposes to the broader community in which they occur. If sex were only about the continuance of the species, argues Roughgarden, then evolution would have bred out any tendency toward homosexuality a long time ago. She proposes that instead of trying to shoehorn 450 (so far) exceptions into the framework of Darwin's theory of sexual selection, the framework should change instead. Maybe, she says, homosexuality is a "defining feature of advanced animal communities." SEED is

In a related article, the issue contains a story about a group of Stanford researchers who say Darwinian sexual selection theory wrongly models interactions between the sexes as competitive. "The group has a new theory, social selection, which models mate selection as a cooperative game where parties seek to maximize group welfare.

"Darwinian sexual selection is a theory of conflict: It asserts that men and women have different goals in terms of what they look for in a partner. Males want to have sex with several females in order to create as many offspring as possible, while females want to have sex with very few, high-quality males, who will give their eggs the best genes."

SEED is published by the Seed Media Group in New York; the magazine originated in Montreal.


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