Penguins accused of 'constant acts of sexual depravity'

Penguins accused of 'constant acts of sexual depravity'

London : United Kingdom | Jun 10, 2012 at 11:14 AM PDT
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George Murray Levick carried out research into the sex life of the Adelie penguin during his spell as part of Captain Scott's 1910-13 Antarctic expedition.

He was stunned to see a young male attempting to mate with a dead female, acts of homosexuality and the sexual abuse of chicks.

On his return to the UK, the scientist wrote the findings up in his study, Natural History of the Adelie Penguin, but the most graphic parts were removed in the name of decency.

Mr Levick used the material for a separate short paper, Sexual Habits of the Adelie Penguin, which was passed around a few experts before being lost.

It was recently discovered by Douglas Russell, curator of birds at the Natural History Museum, and he has now republished it in the journal Polar Record.

In his study, Mr Levick describes male Adelies gathering in 'little hooligan bands of half a dozen or more and hanging about the outskirts of the knolls, whose inhabitants they annoy by their constant acts of depravity'.

He also detailed males mounting injured females and chicks being 'misused' in front of their parents.

While the details were considered shocking at the time, Mr Russell told the Observer the study was groundbreaking and remarkably accurate.

However, he said what Mr Levick regarded as depravity was just a sign of the inexperience of the young males at the beginning of the breeding season.

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An automobile sled passes by a group of Adelie penguins in the South Pole in  1958
An automobile sled passes by a group of Adelie penguins in the South Pole in 1958
iqbal_imran is based in Khushāb, Punjab, Pakistan, and is a Stringer on Allvoices.
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