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'Depraved' sex acts by penguins shocked polar explorer

Hidden for nearly 100 years for being too "graphic," a report of "hooligan" behaviors, including sexual coercion, by Adelie penguins observed during Captain Scott's 1910 polar expedition have been uncovered and interpreted. Dr George Murray Levick was among Captain Scott's ill-fated Terra Nova expedition team to the South Pole and was a pioneer in the study of penguins.

Amidst his incredible survival against the odds in the South Pole, Dr Levick made groundbreaking notes on the sexual shenanigans of the Adelie penguin, with findings so shocking they remained hidden for decades after. The naughty notes were rediscovered recently at the Natural History Museum in Tring, in England, and published in the recent issue of the journal Polar Record.

Homosexual acts, sexual abuse of chicks and even attempts by male penguins to mate with dead females are recorded in Levick's paper "Sexual Habits of the Adelie Penguin", which had been lost for decades.

To this day, Levick is the only scientist to have studied an entire breeding cycle at Cape Adare after he spent the Antarctic summer of 1911-12 there, the Guardian said.
On his return to Britain, Mr Levick attempted to publish a paper entitled "the natural history of the adelie penguin", but according to Douglas Russell, curator of eggs and nests at the Natural History Museum, it was too much for the times.
However, scientists now understand the biological reasons behind the acts that Dr Levick considered "depraved".

Homosexual behaviors in animals are no longer cause for hiding data, or even a blush.
Plenty of animals are out of the closet, so to speak, from dolphins and killer whales to bonobos and greylag geese. Some estimates put the number of animal species that practice same-sex coupling at 1,500.
And while Levick may have viewed the interactions between penguins through an anthropomorphic lens, today that's not the case, the researchers note.
Necrophilia, for instance, is not the same in penguins and humans; Rather than being sexually aroused by a hot gal, male penguins are chemically wired to respond in certain ways to a seemingly compliant female of breeding age.
"What is happening there is not in any way analogous to necrophilia in the human context," Mr Russell said. "It is the males seeing the positioning that is causing them to have a sexual reaction.
"They are not distinguishing between live females who are awaiting congress in the colony, and dead penguins from the previous year which just happen to be in the same position."

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