Skip to content. For human beings, the beginning of spring means longer days and warmer weather. Well, allow us.
Certainly, the reproductive behavior of the dominant animal in any mammalian hierarchy is under constant scrutiny by those on its lower rungs. Surely something atavistic is at work. From our demand for waterproof cosmetics to our sense of a rightful place in the cosmos, we are shaped by the biology of sex far more than we would like to admit.
As with many questions about sex, this exposes some interesting facts about the way we discuss the subject. On one level, the question of whether humans and nonhumans experience sex in the same way is fairly simply dismissed: how would we know? Sex as an experiential phenomenon for nonhumans is, quite simply, inaccessible.
When mom told you about "the birds and the bees," this probably wasn't what she was referring to. Mating habits in the animal kingdom range from strangely romantic to gag-inducing to absolutely terrifying. And yes, sometimes there's poop involved.
They get intoxicated, delight in chasing each other, and have sex just for kicks. The subjects of Jonathan Balcombe's Pleasurable Kingdom are not spring breakers, but animals large and small. Balcombe, the animal behavior research scientist for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicinedescribes little-explored similarities between humans and animals from an unusual perspective: how various species have fun.
If you like to tune in to TMZ to catch up on the latest celebrity sex scandals, imagine what you're missing by not watching Discovery or National Geographic instead: the details of animal mating can be titillating, amusing, and just plain weird all at the same time. Penises vary widely across the animal kingdom, but a universal theme is that this organ somehow changes size or shape before or during the act of mating, then reverts back to its "usual" configuration. Not so for alligators, the males of which are endowed with permanently erect penises layered with numerous coats of the stiff protein collagen that lurk inside their cloacas, then burst out suddenly like the baby Alien from John Hurt's stomach.
Below, animal experts weigh in on what animal might be the horniest. Associate Professor, Zoology, Ohio Wesleyan University, whose research focuses on how sexual selection, especially female mating preferences, interacts with other mechanisms to shape population divergence and speciation. Their males invest so much into reproduction that they stop eating; their stress levels skyrocket, leading to basically a full body breakdown hair falling out, internal hemorrhage, etc.
Your question gets at the heart of what many cognitive scientists in the fields of neuroscience, philosophy, and computer science are trying to address. This great mystery in science is consciousness. In particular, your question is related to the mind-body problem.
Share On facebook Share On facebook Share. Share On vk Share On vk Share. Share On lineapp Share On lineapp.
We thought we were the only species to enjoy intimate interactions, but as Jason G Goldman discovers, a few curious couplings in nature have changed our view. Sex, we are told, is pleasurable. That's because most scientific accounts of sexual behaviour rest upon evolutionary explanations rather than the more immediately relevant mental and emotional experiences. To say that we have sex because it helps us to preserve our genetic legacies would be entirely accurate, but the more fleeting, experiential, pleasurable aspects of that most basic of social urges would be missing.