Being gay can boost fertility, at least in beetlesNovember 5th, 2008 - 2:21 pm ICT by ANI
Washington, Nov 5 (ANI): In a surprising finding, scientists have discovered that homosexual activity in male flour beetles can actually boost their chances of reproducing, says a new study.
The researchers also found that beetles, through their homosexual encounters, transfer their semen to another male, and may in turn fertilise a female they may have never encountered.
While homosexual behaviour has long been seen in flour beetles, scientifically known as Tribolium castaneum, the new study is the first one to find the reason behind such a tendency.
“We noticed that these male beetles spent quite a lot of time in this seemingly counterproductive behaviour and wondered what was going on, so we set up some experiments to find out,” National Geographic quoted lead author Sara Lewis, an evolutionary ecologist at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, as saying.
Organisms including insects, penguins, and primates, display homosexual behaviour, and researchers have laid out many hypotheses behind such tendencies.
While some have attributed the male behaviour as a need to practice breeding before meeting females, others claim that males need to get rid of old, less effective sperm before they encounter females.
In fact, there are some scientists who claim that homosexual behaviour is a method of exerting social dominance over other males.
To find out which hypothesis holds true, researchers marked individual males and females, then tracked their sexual exploits and simultaneously monitoring the paternity of any offspring born in the group.
They found that out of all the hypotheses, only one justified the homosexual behaviour among flour beetlesas males were dribbling sperm onto each other, it suggested that they might be getting rid of the old sperm and preparing the arsenal of fresh sperm for their next female encounter.
Also, the researchers found that if one male leaked semen on another male and the semen-covered male later bred with a female, the female’’s eggs could become fertilized with the sperm of the male she had never encountered.
The fact that a male could inseminate a female without directly breeding with her came as a big surprise.
Thus, one can say that the flour beetles” homosexual behaviour yields a direct reproductive benefit, allowing males to inseminate females without expending time or energy having sex with them.
“We could not believe these results when we first saw them, so we ran the experiment over and over again to make sure it was actually happening,” said Lewis.
The findings of the study appear in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology. (ANI)
- Inbred sperm fertilize fewer eggs - Jun 16, 2010
- Inbred sperm fertilise fewer eggs - Jun 16, 2010
- How gay sex can lead to birth of an offspring - Oct 21, 2008
- Male fireflies seduce females with sperm package - Jul 09, 2012
- Genetic 'battle of the sexes' could be much harder to resolve: Study - Nov 05, 2010
- Wingless female fireflies get less support from mates - Apr 06, 2011
- New male infertility test could 'bring hope to millions' - Jun 07, 2011
- Polygamous mice 'have more fertile offspring' - Feb 05, 2011
- Tiny cricket possesses world's 'biggest' testicles - Nov 11, 2010
- How male spiders try to trick females into sex - Nov 14, 2011
- Sperm identification could improve male fertility - May 29, 2010
- Production of sperm may lower immunity - Jan 31, 2012
- 'Promiscuous' chimps produce more sperm - Feb 17, 2011
- 'Paranoid' insects double mating time with females - Aug 09, 2011
- Test to identify 'best' sperm developed - May 29, 2010
Tags: counterproductive behaviour, evolutionary ecologist, flour beetles, homosexual activity, homosexual behaviour, homosexual encounters, hypotheses, male behaviour, males and females, medford massachusetts, nov 5, paternity, primates, sara lewis, semen, sexual exploits, social dominance, sperm, tribolium castaneum, tufts university