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March 09, 2005

Birds Of The Netherlands: Homosexual Necrophiliac Mallard Rapists

Anas platyrhynchos, or Anus platyrhynchos? (lva)

Ducks behave pretty badly, it seems. It is not so much that up to one in 10 of mallard couples are homosexual - no one would raise an eyebrow in the liberal Netherlands - but they regularly indulge in "attempted rape flights" when they pursue other ducks with a view to forcible mating. "Rape is a normal reproductive strategy in mallards," explains Mr Moeliker.

As he recounts in his seminal paper, The first case of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard anas platyrhynchos, he was in his office in the Natuurmuseum Rotterdam, when he was alerted by a bang to the fact a bird had crashed into the glass facade of the building. "I went downstairs immediately to see if the window was damaged, and saw a drake mallard (anas platyrhynchos) lying motionless on its belly in the sand, two metres outside the facade. The unfortunate duck apparently had hit the building in full flight at a height of about three metres from the ground. Next to the obviously dead duck, another male mallard (in full adult plumage without any visible traces of moult) was present. He forcibly picked into the back, the base of the bill and mostly into the back of the head of the dead mallard for about two minutes, then mounted the corpse and started to copulate, with great force, almost continuously picking the side of the head.

Not up to date on my homosexual animal theory, but at one point such acts in the animal kingdom were considered to be displays of dominance. As for explaining the behavior of the the mallard in question, I would think that dominance theory would have an easier time explaining the bird's actions (Lower ranking male seizes an opportunity) than most other hypotheses (bird heartbroken over loss of life partner, bird possesses helpless partner fetish, bird addicted to sex, bird nuts) would.

Posted by Bigwig at March 9, 2005 09:49 PM | TrackBack
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Comments

Thoughts from Kansas blogged this a while back. The biology behind it is pretty cool.

Posted by: Josh at March 10, 2005 12:44 AM

Ducks behave pretty badly, it seems.

Not only in the liberal Netherlands; they do it in upstanding places such as Utah, too.

There are numerous mallards that nest in the ponds at the golf course across the street from my office. Every year about this time one can observe several drakes chasing an unlucky hen, attempting to forcibly copulate with her.

In fact, just a couple of years ago, there were three drakes taking turns with a female on the lawn just behind our office. One would mount, which would infuriate the other two, who would then attack. Whoever got loose from the melee would try again, repeating the cycle. All the while the poor hen would try and escape.

No word on if this display created a "hostile environment" for our female employees...

Posted by: Captain Holly at March 10, 2005 01:12 PM

I'm sure Kehaar is hard at work on this as we speak, but I'll bet there are some examples of penile mutiltation in the animal kingdom.

Posted by: Captain Holly at March 10, 2005 01:14 PM

It makes sense. Have you ever seen Donald Duck? Going into a blind rage and the drop of a hat, while going around town without any pants on. Freak.

Posted by: Protagonist at March 10, 2005 08:19 PM
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