Biological exuberance : animal homosexuality and natural diversity

by Bagemihl, Bruce.

Format: Print Book 1999.
Availability: Unavailable 0 of 1 copy
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Location Collection Status
Mt. Lebanon Public Library Non-Fiction IN TRANSIT
Location  Mt. Lebanon Public Library
Collection  Non-Fiction
A Publishers Weekly Best Book
One of the New York Public Library's "25 Books to Remember" for 1999

Homosexuality in its myriad forms has been scientifically documented in more than 450 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, and other animals worldwide. Biological Exuberance is the first comprehensive account of the subject, bringing together accurate, accessible, and nonsensationalized information. Drawing upon a rich body of zoological research spanning more than two centuries, Bruce Bagemihl shows that animals engage in all types of nonreproductive sexual behavior. Sexual and gender expression in the animal world displays exuberant variety, including same-sex courtship, pair-bonding, sex, and co-parenting--even instances of lifelong homosexual bonding in species that do not have lifelong heterosexual bonding.

Part 1, "A Polysexual, Polygendered World," begins with a survey of homosexuality, transgender, and nonreproductive heterosexuality in animals and then delves into the broader implications of these findings, including a valuable perspective on human diversity. Bagemihl also examines the hidden assumptions behind the way biologists look at natural systems and suggests a fresh perspective based on the synthesis of contemporary scientific insights with traditional knowledge from indigenous cultures.

Part 2, "A Wondrous Bestiary," profiles more than 190 species in which scientific observers have noted homosexual or transgender behavior. Each profile is a verbal and visual "snapshot" of one or more closely related bird or mammal species, containing all the documentation required to support the author's often controversial conclusions.

Lavishly illustrated and meticulously researched, filled with fascinating facts and astonishing descriptions of animal behavior, Biological Exuberance is a landmark book that will change forever how we look at nature.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "Exploding the myth that homosexuality is not frequently found in nature, this carefully researched book documents the broad range of sexual behavior recorded for nonhuman animals. The idea that reproduction is the sole reason for sexual behavior is a prevalent one, and only recently has it begun to be seriously questioned. Bagemihl, in a wide-ranging survey of (mostly) mammals and birds, presents research on hundreds of species, demonstrating all forms of sexual contact. The first six chapters synthesize all of the theories for observed homosexual behavior, carefully marshalling the author's argument for a new paradigm about sexuality--that biological systems are, in general, extravagant, and that sexual diversity is one form of this biodiversity. The second half of the book is a look at homosexuality in a broad array of mammals and birds, with extensive references for each species discussed. An appendix covers other species in which homosexual behavior has been documented, including reptiles, amphibians, fish, invertebrates, and domestic animals. The sheer, well-documented scope of this book makes it extremely valuable, and it will be eagerly read by both those interested in animals and those interested in sexual orientation. --Nancy Bent"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "A brilliant and important exercise in exposing the limitations of received opinion, this book presents to the lay reader and specialist alike an exhaustively argued case that animals have multiple shades of sexual orientation. The book is broken into two sections, the second containing species "portraits" detailing recorded homosexual/transgendered behaviors. The main portion of the book sets out to reveal and, indeed, revel in the documented evidence to date that some 450 species engage in both sustained and occasional "gay," "lesbian" and transgendered pairing, parenting and play. Animals (both heterosexual and homosexual) also rape and divorce, commit "child" abuse and infidelity and can be lifelong celibates. Human claims to uniqueness in this arena are shown to be increasingly difficult to maintain. The overall effect is to detonate the myth that animals are solely driven by heterosexual reproductive urges, as Bagemihl, a biologist, amasses evidence with case study after case study of species ranging from whiptail lizards to bottlenose dolphins, flamingoes, vampire bats and giraffes. But his book offers more than a zoological laundry list. Biologists who have long classified these behaviors as taking place only in "abnormal" conditions or as "pseudo-copulation," "mistakes," "practicing" and domineering sexual bullying are frequently shown to be willfully ignoring behavior that does not reflect their own worldview or accepted scientific thought. What might so easily have turned into a tub-thumping activist tract hitched to the need for acceptance of homosexuality among humans is instead elevated to a hugely inclusive, celebratory biological interpretation of the world. Bagemihl convincingly overturns previous inviolable "truths" that scarcity and functionality are the prime agents of biological change, and advances instead the idea that abundance and extravagance‘"biological exuberance"‘are just as crucial to the mosaic of life. Numerous illustrations by John Megahan. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Homosexuality in animals.
Publisher New York :St. Martin's Press,1999.
Edition 1st ed.
Language English
Description xiii, 751 pages : illustrations, map ; 25 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages 671-732) and indexes.
ISBN 0312192398
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