Stranger Fruit

Kinky duck

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I blogged about this way back in 2003 when I had a blog on LiveJournal (yeah, I know), but I want to share it with my (now larger) readership. It’s my favorite scientific paper ever:

On 5 June 1995 an adult male mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) collided with the glass facade of the Natuurmuseum Rotterdam and died. An other drake mallard raped the corpse almost continuously for 75 minutes. Then the author disturbed the scene and secured the dead duck. Dissection showed that the rape-victim indeed was of the male sex. It is concluded that the mallards were engaged in an ‘Attempted Rape Flight’ that resulted in the first described case of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard.

What’s not to love about a paper about a gay necrophiliac feathered rapist with sexual staying-power?

Moeliker received an IgNobel in 2003 for his ground-breaking study of sexual deviancy.

Ref: Moeliker, C.W., 2001 "The first case of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard Anas platyrhynchos (Aves: Anatidae)" DEINSEA 8: 243-247 [pdf]

Comments

  1. #1 Cuttlefish
    November 12, 2007

    I really want to write a poem about this, but what rhymes with duck?

  2. #2 Troy
    November 12, 2007

    Funny, then I realized that there is actually someone who is paid specifically to sit and watch gay ducks rape corpses. That brought on the milk spewing belly laughs.

  3. #3 John S. Wilkins
    November 12, 2007

    Well it happened outside his office window, so he wasn’t actually looking for it.

    Ducks are randy buggers (in this case, literally): they will happily mate with anything that even resembles their release target image. They hybridise all the time as a result, especially when there are few conspecifics to mate with.

  4. #4 Bing McGhandi
    November 13, 2007

    Best. Post. Ever. In the history of the Internet.

    HJ

  5. #5 Bing McGhandi
    November 13, 2007

    Is there a gene for that?!? (Or is it just the run-of-the-mill-rape-anything-you-can-press-your-ducky-self-against gene?)

    HJ

  6. #6 OneRandomScientist
    November 13, 2007

    To add to the utter randomness, this is probably the fastest accepted paper ever as well:

    Received 11 October 2001
    Accepted 12 October 2001

  7. #7 Konrad Talmont-Kaminski
    November 13, 2007

    I have to wonder how religious conservatives would explain homosexual, necrophiliac, rapist ducks? Or is it that THAT’s what they mean by natural behaviour? It would explain at least some of the peccadilloes Republican politicians keep turning out to be involved in.

  8. #8 Warren
    November 13, 2007

    Heh, Moeliker deserved his IgNobel. You can’t take loaded terms like “rape” and “necrophilia” and apply it to nonhuman animals; those ideas — indeed, the concept of sexual deviance itself — are strictly the bourne of H. Sapiens. What’s next, allegations of racism in banana slugs?

  9. #9 saliel
    November 13, 2007

    Wow.

    Now, in reply of mr Konrad, on comment #7: Sure they will see the work of the Devil here …. (:

    –saff

  10. #10 merkin j. pus-tart
    November 14, 2007

    Daffy Duck?

  11. #11 Monado
    November 15, 2007

    Given the brevity and simplicity of the incident, surely it was more of a letter than a paper?

    Who says that necrophilia and homosexuality can only be used to describe humans? Especially in an abstract, they are short terms that mean what the author is trying to say: nonconsensual sex with a dead body of a member of the same sex. You know, “If it quacks like a duck…” I seem to remember reading in a book about birds that male snow geese commonly rape nesting females who cannot bring themselves to abandon their eggs. What round-about term would you use? And how much improvement would it be?

  12. #12 jte
    November 18, 2007

    In response to Warren and Monado, Warren is more right. “Necrophilia” is not simply descriptive of an act of intercourse between a living individual and a dead one–it means an _interest_ and _desire_ to have sex with dead partners. Whether or not the living duck desired to partner with a dead one is purely speculative. It’s not that the term can’t be applied to non-humans (so Monado is right in principle) but that there’s no convincing evidence of necrophilia in this case. As for “rape,” that too seems like a loaded term to use w/r/t a duck and its dead “partner.” I’m not sure “nonconsensual” is applicable to dead things (any more than “consensual”). Consensuality just isn’t a dimension that exists in the non-living world.

  13. #13 Konrad Talmont-Kaminski
    November 29, 2007

    JTE, your response sounds very reasonable yet I find that I must disagree with it. You assume that necrophilia and other such terms must be understood intentionally which leads you to claim that they are inapplicable to non-human animals for lack of evidence. First of all, while there is a clear difference as to the amount of information we can have for the intentions of humans and non-human animals, it should not be seen in black and white terms. Verbal reports are of limited value and much can be gathered about animal intentions from their behaviour. More profoundly, I would question whether necrophilia (and other such terms) must, or even should, be understood intentionally by science. A good counter-example would seem to me to be altruism which historically was understood intentionally but is now applied to forms of life which clearly have no intentions to speak of. The deep point is that by assuming that necrophilia is to be understood intentionally we are in effect assuming that it is in terms of intentions that necrophilia can best be explained. However, it has turned out on many occasions that intentional processes are not as explanatory as more basic considerations, including evolutionary and game-theoretic ones – altruism being a case in point. In other words, if ‘rape’ is a loaded term, we should ‘unload’ it and use it across the human/non-human divide. By refusing to use it we end up buying into some seriously shaky metaphysics, despite JTE’s apparently reasonable worries. So, is anyone here doing research on racist banana slugs?

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