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June 20, 2009

New Study – Homosexual Behavior Widespread In Animals

Dolphins The pairing of same sex couples had previously been observed in more than 1,000 species including penguins, dolphins and primates.

However, in the latest study the authors claim the phenomenon is not only widespread but part of a necessary biological adaptation for the survival of the species.

They found that on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, almost a third of the Laysan albatross (large seabirds) population is raised by pairs of two females because of the shortage of males. Through these ‘lesbian’ unions, Laysan albatross are flourishing. Their existence had been dwindling before the adaptation was noticed.

Other species form same-sex bonds for other reasons, they found. Dolphins have been known engage in same-sex interactions to facilitate group bonding while male-male pairings in locusts killed off the weaker males.

A pair of “gay” penguins recently hatched an egg at a German zoo after being given the egg that had been rejected by its biological parents by keepers.

Writing in Trends in Ecology & Evolution, Dr. Nathan Bailey, an evolutionary biologist at California University, said previous studies have failed to consider the evolutionary consequences of homosexuality.

He said same homosexual behavior was often a product of natural selection to further the survival of the species.

Dr Bailey said: “It’s clear same-sex sexual behavior extends far beyond the well-known examples that dominate both the scientific and popular literature – for example, bonobos, dolphins, penguins and fruit flies.”

“Same-sex behaviors – courtship, mounting or parenting – are traits that may have been shaped by natural selection, a basic mechanism of evolution that occurs over successive generations,” he said.

“But our review of studies also suggests that these same-sex behaviors might act as selective forces in and of themselves.”

Original post:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/scienceandtechnology/science/sciencenews/5550488/Homosexual-behaviour-widespread-in-animals-according-to-new-study.html

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February 25, 2009

First Dog Will Arrive In April And Might Be A Portuguese Water Dog

portuguese-water-dog  It’s (almost) official: The Obamas are getting a rescued Portuguese water dog.  Or, rather, Michelle Obama told People magazine that the family was on the lookout for a dog who fit that description, was “old enough” and was a “match” for the family dynamic. 

The primary rationale behind the choice of a Portuguese water dog is, of course, its allergy-friendly coat (a trait also found in poodles, soft-coated wheaten terriers and other breeds).  The breed’s temperament and “middle of the road” size were also factors, according to Mrs. Obama, who added: “And the folks that we know who own them have raved about them.  So that’s where we’re leaning.” 

Our colleague Johanna Neuman at the Top of the Ticket blog explains that one of those “folks we know” Mrs. Obama references is another Washington mover-and-shaker:

The choice is also likely to delight Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy, an early Obama supporter who has two Portuguese water dogs himself and has never been shy about lobbying for his causes.

(One of Kennedy’s dogs, Splash, is the narrator of his children’s book, “My Senator and Me: A Dog’s Eye View of Washington, D.C.“)

The timeline for the new addition?  Look for its arrival after spring break, says the first lady. 

From People:

Here’s a sample of a typical family conversation on the matter: “So Sasha says, ‘April 1st.’ I said, ‘April.’ She says, ‘April 1st.’ It’s, like, April!” Mrs. Obama recalls. “Got to do it after spring break. You can’t get a new dog and then go away for a week.”

The Obamas’ one dog-related sticking point, now that the breed is decided, is the new pet’s name, People reports:

“Oh, the names are really bad. I don’t even want to mention it, because there are names floating around and they’re bad,” Mrs. Obama says with a laugh. “You listen and you go -– like, I think, Frank was one of them. Frank! Moose was another one of them. Moose. I said, well, what if the dog isn’t a moose? Moose. I’m like, no, come on, let’s work with the names a little bit.”

The level of interest nationwide in the first family’s dog search has been surprising, Mrs. Obama told People.  But it’s “all great and gracious attention. People are just being as helpful as you can imagine.”  The interview will appear in the issue of People due on newsstands this Friday.

“The Portuguese water dog is a fun-loving dog with a lot of energy,” Michelle Barlak of the AKC told the Baltimore Sun. “It’s a great family dog, but they have to understand the dog will require quite a bit of exercise…. Two young girls who are very active are good companions for the dog.”

What do you think of the Obamas’ choice?  Will an energetic water retriever be a good match for the first family? 

 

Original article:

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/unleashed/2009/02/obama-portugues.html

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