The Evolutionary Purpose of Male Homosexuality

A recent show on the science channel alerted me to an interesting new hypothesis about the evolution of homosexuality. Contrary to popular thought, it does not appear to be an accident. (If anyone can find documentation about this new hypothesis... let me know). Particularly interesting is the behavior of primate males in family groups. As is well known, apes (such as chimanzees, bonobos, and gorillas) that live in family groups consist of many females, one dominant male that gets exclusive access to mating with the females, and sometimes one or more submissive males that do not have the right to mate with the females. A new scientific hypothesis suggests that our early ancestors (who may have lived in similar family groups) may have developed homosexuality among these "submissive" males. The sexual behavior of the apes currently being studied suggests that male homosexuality has an important evolutionary advantage in family groups. The submissive males engage in homosexual behavior as a way to satisfy sexual instincts... but the advantage goes further than that. By engaging in homosexuality, the submissive males present themselves as no threat to the dominate male and thus promote group harmony, by discouraging male fighting over mates. Furthermore, these homosexual males provided survival advantages to the family group by helping to protect the females and infants from predators and rival family groups and to find food for the group. In this case, the sacrifice of the genetic survival of one individual gave an enormous advantage to the survival of the group. - Which is something evolution has been known to favor.

Although this particular advantage of homosexuality is obsolete for humans, the homosexual orientation would have survived despite that because our society changes far faster than evolution.

So.. for any homophobes that claim homosexuality is "unnatural" - Au Contraire! It is VERY natural, for some people!

Views: 4123

Tags: Science, biology, evolution, gay rights, homophobia, religion

Comment by Pope Beanie on March 11, 2012 at 6:22am

I strongly suspect that sexual preference has epigenetic causes. If that's true, then it may be possible one day to influence preference biologically, with drugs or some kind of epigenetic therapy (analogous to gene therapy). I wouldn't feel comfortable with messing with such things, but I'll still bet that it's going to happen someday. (The first, successful epigenetic therapies will probably be for curing or mitigating specific diseases.)

Comment by Shabaka Tecumseh on March 12, 2012 at 2:01pm

Ward and YOU know more?  lmao..

ab·er·rant  (br-nt, -br-)

adj.
1. Deviating from the proper or expected course.
2. Deviating from what is normal; untrue to type.
n.
One that is aberrant.

 

"The number of species on the planet that have been documented by scientists has risen to 1.9 million, according to the world's most comprehensive catalogue of plants and animals."

The number of species that people CLAIM to practice homosexuality, 1500 or so..

Please Refer back to the above meaning of aberrant.

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As an atheist you should know how unreasonable groups tend to try to prove their point thru "science."   I don't see this homosexual debate as being any different.  Be gay, who cares, but keep it out of the public square..  I found the comments below interesting..maybe they know what they are talking about..

http://www.narth.com/docs/animalmyth.html

Comment by kris feenstra on March 12, 2012 at 3:08pm

There are very few sources that I will dismiss (almost) categorically, but NARTH fits the bill.  It is, quite simply, not a reliable source.  It has been accused more than once of distorting research results by the respective researchers themselves.  It has a clear agenda and heavy religious bias.  If you'd really like me to go through that article, I'd be willing to make an exception here.

It's odd that you talk about religion abusing science to support its aims, then site a source that in no uncertain terms does that very thing.  Check your sources better.

"The number of species on the planet that have been documented by scientists has risen to 1.9 million, according to the world's most comprehensive catalogue of plants and animals."

The number of species that people CLAIM to practice homosexuality, 1500 or so..

The number of species in which homosexuality has been observed is not meant to be a comprehensive number.  It is based on the species we have observed to the extent we have observed them, which is to say limited observation.  The fact that there are 1.9 million documented species is not in any way relevant.  Sexual orientation will not apply to hundreds of thousands of those species one way or the other.  If we use this sort of thinking, being a mammal is aberrant as the number of documented species don't even number into the tens of thousands.

That said, aberrant may be a fair word to apply to homosexuality or other gender identity issues where biology is concerned.  It really depends on the cause, but its not a question of statistics across species.  Socially, I'm not sure that it is.  If we say that it deviates from the norm, a norm has to be defined, and when it comes to human sexuality, good fucking luck.

I don't see this homosexual debate as being any different.  Be gay, who cares, but keep it out of the public square.. 

Why?  For what possible reason?  Even if we stated that it was a preference for the sake of argument, why should that preference be stuffed into a closet?  I don't agree with many people's preferences in music, or clothes, choice of words, political views (etc.).  Should they all be forced to keep these things out of the public square just to appease me?  Or is it just the minorities that are expected to do this?

Comment by Shabaka Tecumseh on March 12, 2012 at 3:41pm

lol a "norm" has to be defined?...I suppose so if your cultural edict is to be boundless, to expand itself...

However, I think you can use Nature as a standard, but then again, since you are boundless, Nature means nothing to you.

Are "mammals" aberrant among mammals?  You bore me..

 

Comment by kris feenstra on March 12, 2012 at 3:46pm

None of that has anything to do with what I said.  Please address my actual comments and not the imaginary comments you find convenient.

And yes, norms have to be defined.

Comment by Shabaka Tecumseh on March 12, 2012 at 3:47pm

you don't have to put it in the closet, just not in the public square. 

Comment by kris feenstra on March 12, 2012 at 3:48pm

Oh?  then I have misunderstood your comment.  What constitutes putting it in the public square?

Comment by Shabaka Tecumseh on March 12, 2012 at 3:51pm

Here's a "norm"  for you, there are two types of sexual reproduction, sexual and asexual.  Tell me which type do homosexuals practice?

Comment by kris feenstra on March 12, 2012 at 3:56pm

If you're going to phrase it in that from, sexual, though the end result isn't reproduction.  In this case, the urge is based in reproduction, but the act itself is recreational.

Also, that's not a norm.

Comment by Shabaka Tecumseh on March 12, 2012 at 4:07pm

Well reproduction is a "norm" in Nature. So how many mammals practice sexual reproduction?  How many mammals (provable) do it recreationally?  We know humans, but can you speak for other mammals?  I know you do when it comes to what you "claim" is their "homosexual" behavior..

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