“Astonishing Depravity”: Research shows male penguins having sex with dead females and other shocking behaviours

 by Chi Ibe

The Guardian has released advanced information detailing the “astonishing depravity” of penguins.

Dr. George Murray Levick, a surgeon and medical officer on the 1910-1913 British Antarctic Expedition, Terra Nova, led by Captain Robert Scott was disgusted by the behaviour of penguins at the colony of Adelies at Cape Adare.

Levick carefully documented his journey, but his four-page pamphlet, written in 1915, on the perversions of penguins was considered so shocking it wasn’t published with the other Terra Nova expedition reports.

It was only recently Douglas Russell, curator of birds at the Natural History Museum in London, discovered the report, entitled; “Sex Habits of the Adelie Penguin.”  In a press release, Russell states that Levick’s time spent in Cape Adare makes him the only scientist to this day to have studied an entire breeding cycle.

Levick was horrified by the actions of “hooligan males” and “observed and commented on the their sexual activity, autoerotic behaviour, the behaviour of young unpaired males and females including necrophilia, sexual coercion, the sexual and physical abuse of chicks, non-procreative sex and homosexual behaviour.”

Witnessing what he believed to be males penguins having sex with dead females was too much for Levick, who wrote down his observations in Greek, fearing the reactions it might produce if read back in England. “There seems to be no crime too low for these penguins,” Levick wrote.

Russell and his team of researchers have reinterpreted Levick’s observations and published the study in the Cambridge University Press journal Polar Record.

“Levick’s notes were decades ahead of their time and possibly the first ever attempt to reveal the more challenging aspects of bird behavioural strategies to the academic world,’ said Russell in a press release from the Natural History Museum.

Research shows that, when mating, female penguins will adopt a receptive position — lying on their front with their feathers close to their body and eyes nearly closed — and may appear as though they are dead. Penguins are chemically wired to respond to a seemingly compliant female of breeding age, rather than being sexually aroused.

Source: The Huffington Post.

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