As we learned in class humans are not the only animals to participate in homosexual sex. Clearly this tells us that not all sexual encounters in the animal kingdom are for reproduction and evolution. While in class we though about different reasons why animals might be having gay sex which can not result in pregnancy, one idea we did not really look at was that of animals having sex for pleasure.
Obviously humans have sex for pleasure and not just for procreation. In fact, there are multi-billion dollar companies that exist purely to prevent pregnancy but allow us still to have sex worry free. While I have often heard people say that dolphins and humans are the only animals that have sex for fun I decided to see if pleasure might be a factor in other animals sex lives, specifically those animals closest to us in design, and a possible cause for their homosexual behavior.
During my research I found many examples of animals participating in either homosexual behavior, or heterosexual behavior that could not end in reproduction. While male-male sex can possibly be explained with the examples given in class, like just tiring out a competitor, behaviors such as heterosexual sex with no chance of procreation and oral sex cannot.
While we can not exactly just ask the animals the purpose of their behavior, we can observe their reactions. One way to see if animals are deriving pleasure from sex that won’t end in pregnancy is to attempt gauging whether or not they, particularly females, are able to orgasm.
One team who tried to tackle this question was the pairing of Alfonso Triosi and Monica Carosi. The two observed Japanese Macaques sexual behaviors for 238 hours and recorded 240 mating, 80 of which ended in the female primate exhibiting signs of orgasm similar to those exhibited by human females. The 1/3 of sexual encounters that ended this way all were of longer duration than the ones not ending in orgasm and suggests that like in humans the females are reacting to a certain higher more intense amount of stimulation. As previously stated we cannot of course ask the animals if sex has to do with pleasure but as evidence suggests from the Japanese Macaques and other studies involving primates, it seems as though they may be deriving pleasure and even reaching orgasm.