Male macaque monkeys are having lots of gay sex, scientists say


Two rhesus macaque monkeys in a tree, as researchers declare same-sex behaviour natural
Image: Suyash Dwivedi/Creative Commons

A whopping majority of male macaque monkeys are “behaviourally bisexual”, researchers in the UK have declared.

In the animal kingdom, scientists have previously spotted same-sex behaviour in over 1,500 species.

Now a new study published in the journal Current Biology has found that 72% of male macaque monkeys are big fans of mounting each other.

Researchers from Imperial College in London watched and tracked the behaviour of hundreds of male rhesus macaque monkeys in Puerto Rico.

Their study found that the wild males exhibited homosexual behaviours more often than heterosexual ones.

Almost three-quarters (72 per cent) undertook same-sex mounting, which scientists say helps to strengthen social bonds and relationships.

Less than half (46 per cent) engaged in mounting with macaques of the opposite sex.

“We found most males were behaviourally bisexual, and that variation in same-sex activity was heritable,” study author Jackson Clive said.

“This means that the behaviour can have an evolutionary underpinning. For example, we also found that males that mounted each other were also more likely to back each other up in conflicts. Perhaps this could be one of many social benefits of same-sex sexual activity.

“Our research, therefore, shows that same-sex sexual behaviours can be common amongst animals and can evolve. I hope our results encourage further discoveries in this area.”

Same-sex behaviour widespread in nature, according to science

Professor Vincent Savolainen, the study’s senior author, cautioned against direct comparisons to humans in the research.

But he said it’s unfortunate some people still believe same-sex behaviour is “unnatural”.

“Some countries sadly still enforce the death penalty for homosexuality,” Prof Savolainen said.

“Our research shows that same-sex behaviour is in fact widespread amongst non-human animals.

“Our mission is to advance scientific understanding of same-sex behaviour, including exploring the benefits it brings to nature and within animal societies.”

Read more: Political party accuses Sydney’s gay penguins of faking romance

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Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

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