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Sat Jun 9, 2012, 09:36 AM

'Sexual depravity' of penguins that Antarctic scientist dared not reveal

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jun/09/sex-depravity-penguins-scott-antarctic


Two adult Adelie penguins with a chick in Antarctica. The abuse of the young was one of the things which shocked George Levick. Photograph: Steve Bloom Images /Alamy

It was the sight of a young male Adelie penguin attempting to have sex with a dead female that particularly unnerved George Murray Levick, a scientist with the 1910-13 Scott Antarctic Expedition. No such observation had ever been recorded before, as far as he knew, and Levick, a typical Edwardian Englishman, was horrified. Blizzards and freezing cold were one thing. Penguin perversion was another.

Worse was to come, however. Levick spent the Antarctic summer of 1911-12 observing the colony of Adelies at Cape Adare, making him the only scientist to this day to have studied an entire breeding cycle there. During that time, he witnessed males having sex with other males and also with dead females, including several that had died the previous year. He also saw them sexually coerce females and chicks and occasionally kill them.

Levick blamed this "astonishing depravity" on "hooligan males" and wrote down his observations in Greek so that only an educated gentleman would understand the horrors he had witnessed. Back in Britain he produced a paper (in English), titled Natural History of the Adelie Penguin. However, the section about the animal's sexual proclivities was deemed to be so shocking it was removed to preserve decency. Levick then used this material as the basis for a separate short paper, Sexual Habits of the Adelie Penguin, which was privately circulated among a handful of experts.

In fact, Levick's observations turned out to be well ahead of their time. Scientists had to wait another 50 years before the remarkable sexual antics of the Adelie were revealed. By this time his pamphlet and its detailed records of Adelie shenanigans had been lost to science .

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Reply 'Sexual depravity' of penguins that Antarctic scientist dared not reveal (Original post)
xchrom Jun 2012 OP
Ilsa Jun 2012 #1
Xipe Totec Jun 2012 #2
Denninmi Jun 2012 #3
panader0 Jun 2012 #4
southernyankeebelle Jun 2012 #13
truedelphi Jun 2012 #14
southernyankeebelle Jun 2012 #16
truedelphi Jun 2012 #17
southernyankeebelle Jun 2012 #21
truedelphi Jun 2012 #22
southernyankeebelle Jun 2012 #23
Baitball Blogger Jun 2012 #5
Bohunk68 Jun 2012 #10
valerief Jun 2012 #6
BlueIris Jun 2012 #7
xchrom Jun 2012 #8
Bolo Boffin Jun 2012 #9
fasttense Jun 2012 #11
siligut Jun 2012 #12
Odin2005 Jun 2012 #15
Denninmi Jun 2012 #18
TupperHappy Jun 2012 #19
TupperHappy Jun 2012 #20

Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sat Jun 9, 2012, 09:43 AM

1. Thank you for this post. Very interesting! nt

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sat Jun 9, 2012, 09:46 AM

2. If pinguins had adopted DOMA, this would never happen...




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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sat Jun 9, 2012, 12:55 PM

3. Obviously, this man never spent time on a farm.

Pretty typical bird behavior for some species during breeding season. I keep ducks. Drakes go insane with hormones during breeding season, and will mount anything that moves and some things that don't. They basically spend 24/7 for a period of a couple of months in the spring chasing around looking for sex, with a few short moments in between to eat, drink, and bathe. They are definitely a "if you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with" kind of bird.

I don't see anything very shocking about the fact that penguins behave the same way.

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Response to Denninmi (Reply #3)

Sat Jun 9, 2012, 01:01 PM

4. Or had his leg humped by a dog.............

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Response to Denninmi (Reply #3)

Sun Jun 10, 2012, 12:28 PM

13. If you know about the Edwardian times I could see how and why this information never came out.

 

Everyone had their place and you dare not move from it.

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Response to southernyankeebelle (Reply #13)

Sun Jun 10, 2012, 03:39 PM

14. That's about it. This was an era where

The well to do in England covered their piano legs up with frothy lace, as we all know how suggestive a bare piano leg can be.

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Response to truedelphi (Reply #14)

Sun Jun 10, 2012, 04:21 PM

16. It was an interesting time I think. My grandparents grew up during that time period.

 

My grandfather was such a gentleman all the way. I never heard him raise his voice in anger. He was a musician and played professionally and even on the radio until Mussolini came to power and he refused to go along with that crowd. He used to say the arts have no politics. When Mussolini was hanged he and my mother had a glass of wine. They hated him.

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Response to southernyankeebelle (Reply #16)

Mon Jun 11, 2012, 01:46 PM

17. My dad was born in the nineteen teens.

So he was raised by Victorians. You might relate to this.

Once, when I was in my teens, he came home from work very distraught. Something simply awful and demeaning had occurred at work.

It was so terrible a situation, he didn't know how he could face going in the next day.

My mom tended to dismiss his problems, but my kid sister and I were interested. Our dad was so calm, cool, collected. The total gentleman. Got along famously with most people.

"But what is the matter, Daddy?" we queried.

We had to really pester him and finally he said, "The two older ladies I work with. They did this shameful thing! Really shameful."

We couldn't imagine what these two older ladies would have done. They too were prim and proper types, and didn't swear or tell off color jokes.

We finally got it out of him that there had been a girdle sale at Marshall Field's. After making their purchases, separately, on their different lunch hours, they had come back to the office, and had compared notes by unwrapping their purchases and holding the girdles up in the air to show each other.

My sister and I laughed til there were tears coming down our faces.



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Response to truedelphi (Reply #17)

Mon Jun 11, 2012, 07:44 PM

21. Oh my that is such a sweet story. In many ways it was such an innocent time.

 

I remember my dear grandfather always wore a suit and when he would come home he would take his jacket off however leave his tie, white shirt and a sweater on. When an lady came in he always stood up or tipped his hat. He never raised his voice. He was a musicians. When he played Mozart he would cry because the music was beautiful he would say. He had his own orchestra and taught many students. When he died my uncle took over and had a band. My grandfather was such a gentle soul. He died when I was 15. I remember him so well. He wasn't like any other grandfathers I knew. He was special. You had to have respect for him. Those were special days.

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Response to southernyankeebelle (Reply #21)

Mon Jun 11, 2012, 09:20 PM

22. Who knows maybe your grandfather and my daddy

Are up there in the far off land, having mint juleps (Though I have to confess, in my dad's case, he'd prefer a beer.)

I think they would have gotten along very well.

I love your stories about him crying when music played.

My dad lived to be ninety, and the day of that birthday, when I called on the phone, he was "Can you believe this? Can you?" His mom had died at the age of 53, and he never thought he'd make it to sixty.

He also had lived long enough to get thoroughly disgusted with the Republican Party, and had voted for Al Gore in 2000. (My mom almost made him sleep in the dog house for that one.)

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Response to truedelphi (Reply #22)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 12:28 PM

23. I love your story also. Funny my grandfather wasn't american. He was born and raised in

 

Italy. His father (my great-great grandfather was a musician also). He taught music to the children of noblebilty in europe. My grandfather picked up his experiences from his dad. He played music on the radio til WWII broke out. He wouldn't become a fascist so he was off the radio. It would be nice in some respects we had that attitude of the time. But not all.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sat Jun 9, 2012, 02:11 PM

5. Maybe it's the understanding that this kind of depravity exists in the wild,

is why the military were so adamant about keeping women off the front lines? They made a big deal that it would endanger the lives of the soldiers who would go out of their way to protect them, when maybe the real reason was that they feared there would be deprave males in the barracks who would rape them?

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Response to Baitball Blogger (Reply #5)

Sun Jun 10, 2012, 07:08 AM

10. That would make sense except

for one little bitty teensy weensy thing. Male humans do not have a specific breeding season. And, no, it is not perpetual. Some males just have no control over their little heads, or think they don't.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sat Jun 9, 2012, 04:12 PM

6. Looks like it's not just humans and chimps that are that perverted. nt

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sat Jun 9, 2012, 10:18 PM

7. Rape, necrophilia and abuse. Who knew penguins

were so like humans?

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Response to BlueIris (Reply #7)

Sat Jun 9, 2012, 10:21 PM

8. 'Great Minds' think alike?

That was my first thought - but I thought better of it.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sun Jun 10, 2012, 03:43 AM

9. March of the Penguins 2?

What's Morgan Freeman doing?

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sun Jun 10, 2012, 08:46 AM

11. Farm life can be very instructive.

I have a hen that mounts other hens and the males don't seem to be able to mount her. But she lays some of the prettiest eggs.

I've seen roosters mount each other and gang up on one hen. If you don't reduce your rooster population to about 1 rooster per 10 hens, the roosters can, and do, kill the hens in an effort to have sex with them.

Stressed out hens then turn to eating their own eggs and chicks. If you get rescue hens, or hens from someone else, be very careful. They can teach their bad behaviors to your other hens.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sun Jun 10, 2012, 12:23 PM

12. He considered himself an educated gentleman

Levick blamed this "astonishing depravity" on "hooligan males" and wrote down his observations in Greek so that only an educated gentleman would understand the horrors he had witnessed.


He classified the behavior as that of hooligans. It really doesn't make sense that he believed only educated gentlemen would understand the "horrors". Wouldn't the people he considered hooligans be more capable to comprehend such behaviors?

This is allowing for his obvious tendency to anthropomorphize animal behavior, I am not astonished by his obvious elitism, but I am, as always, appalled that it would come from a man of science.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sun Jun 10, 2012, 04:01 PM

15. Wow, first rapist dolphins, now rapist pinguins.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Mon Jun 11, 2012, 03:31 PM

18. I think this whole thing says a lot about behavior.

Not penguin behavior, but about human behavior, specifically about attitudes towards anything having to do with sexuality during Victorian/Edwardian times in England.

They created a weird bubble of uptight behavior about sex, and anything they observed outside of the perceived norm, which was basically try to pretend it didn't even exist, shocked them.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Mon Jun 11, 2012, 05:06 PM

19. Nothing but urges from hell...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opus_T._Penguin#Notable_storylines

"Another memorable story line featured Opus being the subject of moral scorn as a perpetrator of "penguin lust". "

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Response to TupperHappy (Reply #19)

Mon Jun 11, 2012, 05:10 PM

20. Did not realize that would be my 69th post

hurr hurr hurr 69 hurr hurr hurr.

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