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Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity by Bruce Bagemihl

1999; 751 pp. $40. St. Martin's Press.

Much much more fun than reading E.O. Wilson. A thoroughly researched refutation of the attitudes of sociobiology, which tried to tie homosexual, bisexual, and transgendered behaviors in animals to a deviant genetic quirk. Part 1 goes through the evidence carefully, tracking homosexual behavior in courtship, pair bonding, and parenting. It pops the Victorianism out of Darwinism and muscles the uptight, mechanical model of evolution toward a more accurate understanding of Nature's version as sloppy and exuberant. Part 2 is a heavily documented bestiary of field research on the polysexual, polygendered world of bird and mammalian life.

I haven't read a more stimulating book in biology in a decade. Maybe field workers who have suppressed their observations because they ran contrary to the academic establishment will now come out of the closet. No dearie, two male manatees in the sixty-nine position are not just bonding socially or performing tension-regulation or demonstrating pseudo-heterosexual displacement behavior. They are, God forbid, enjoying themselves.

P.S. As a maniacal field worker, I would like to see a longer essay that would enrich a few understandings, especially how brother/sister bonding changes "homosexual" parenting and single-sex groups. But Bagemihl has set the stage.

 

ISBN: 031225377X

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