Whoa, dudes. Did you hear about the bats who have oral sex?
Oral sex is widely used in human foreplay, but rarely documented in other animals. Fellatio has been recorded in bonobos Pan paniscus, but even then functions largely as play behaviour among juvenile males. The short-nosed fruit bat Cynopterus sphinx exhibits resource defence polygyny and one sexually active male often roosts with groups of females in tents made from leaves. Female bats often lick their mate’s penis during dorsoventral copulation. The female lowers her head to lick the shaft or the base of the male’s penis but does not lick the glans penis which has already penetrated the vagina. Males never withdrew their penis when it was licked by the mating partner. A positive relationship exists between the length of time that the female licked the male’s penis during copulation and the duration of copulation. Furthermore, mating pairs spent significantly more time in copulation if the female licked her mate’s penis than if fellatio was absent. Males also show postcopulatory genital grooming after intromission. At present, we do not know why genital licking occurs, and we present four non-mutually exclusive hypotheses that may explain the function of fellatio in C. sphinx.
Read that carefully. If it’s a bit difficult to imagine, here’s a video:
Not only do female bats give male bats oral sex, but they do it while they’re having intercourse. The male enters the female from the rear, and the female bends over to lick the shaft of the penis while he’s thrusting in and out. I have never seen that in a porn film. Maybe there is such a thing out there — I can’t claim much knowledge of porn — but this means that animals not only carry out sexually activities condemned by the religious as unnatural, but they do it better than we do.
I have just done something very wicked. I have compared human sexual behavior with that of another animal, describing work published in a serious scientific journal. I could get fired for that! If you were to show this story to co-workers and discuss the implications, you also could get condemned and sanctioned. We’re in trouble now!
You may find that hard to believe, but it’s true in at least one case: Dylan Evans, at University College Cork, in an argument about the uniqueness of human behavior, brought this article up, and his opponent shut him down by crying harassment, triggering an investigation. He was exonerated, but the university president has decided he needs to be sanctioned anyway.
Here’s the story straight from the target.
The President of University College Cork, Professor Michael Murphy, has imposed harsh sanctions on me for doing nothing more than showing an article from a peer-reviewed scientific article to a colleague.
The article was about fellatio in fruit bats. You can read it online at http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0007595
It was covered extensively in the media, including the Guardian – see http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2009/nov/10/oral-sex-bats-improbable-research
The colleague to whom I showed the article complained to HR that the article was upsetting. I had been engaged in an ongoing debate with the colleague in question about the relevance of evolutionary biology to human behaviour, and in particular about the dubiousness of many claims for human uniqueness. I showed it the colleague in the context of this discussion, and in the presence of a third person. I also showed the article to over a dozen other colleagues on the same day, none of whom objected.
HR launched a formal investigation. Despite the fact that external investigators concluded that I was not guilty of harassment, Professor Murphy has imposed a two-year period of intensive monitoring and counselling on me, and as a result my application for tenure is likely to be denied.
I am now campaigning to have the sanctions lifted. I would be grateful for your support on this matter. I have created an online petition at:
I’d be grateful if you sign the petition and ask your colleagues to do so. If you also felt like writing directly to the President of UCC, his address is:
Professor Michael Murphy
The President’s Office
University College Cork
Republic of Ireland.
Your support would be greatly appreciated.
Oh, well, the article was upsetting. Can’t have that; science articles are supposed to be affirming and soothing, I guess.
If you find the president’s actions unwarranted and ridiculous, sign the petition and write to him. And please, do feel free to discuss bat porn all you want.