Atlantic Mollies Go Gay To Get Females: Scientists Study Purpose Of Homosexual Behavior In Animals

Could the unusual if-at-first-you-don’t-succeed-go-gay mating strategy of Atlantic mollies prove homosexual behavior actually makes you more attractive to the opposite sex? Researchers studying the tropical fish’s interesting bait-and-switch tactic at the University of Frankfurt say it’s a possibility.

According to a recent study published in the journal Biology Letters, researchers observed that smaller, less dominant male Atlantic mollies (P. mexicana) were generally passed over by females as potential mates. These guppy-like tropical fish ‘go gay,’ copulating with other males in order to prove their sexual prowess, according to Times Live.

Researchers noted the phenomenon known as “mate choice copying,” in which some female animals judge the quality of a potential mate they had observed coupling with other females, may play a role.

“P. mexicana females increase their preference for initially non-preferred males not only after observing those males interacting sexually with females, but also when having observed them initiating homosexual behavior.”

Researchers further note that female mollies normally show preference for the larger, more colorful dominant males. Geekosystem further points out that, while homosexual behavior is fairly common in males of the species, the University of Frankfurt team believes that the homosexual behavior in the Atlantic mollies may have evolved as a means for less dominant males to increase their attractiveness to females.

“As homosexual behaviour is regularly seen in small P.mexicana males, we speculate that it might represent an alternative mating tactic used by subordinate, and thus, less attractive males.”

Homosexual flirting and foreplay were a signal to the females that the male fish showed a strong interest in sex and were therefore likely to be virile, notes The Daily Mail. The researchers cite Woody Allen in the study, stating:

“Woody Allen once said, ‘Bisexuality immediately doubles your chances for a date on Saturday night,’ and, even if he meant something else, he could nonetheless be right if homosexual behaviour were also to increase the chances of future heterosexual interactions.”

Researchers note that from an evolutionary perspective homosexuality should be a dead end. However, a wide range of other animals including penguins, lions, ducks, crabs, and worms also engage in same-sex relationships.

According to the University of Frankfurt researchers, humans are unusual in the fact that so many are exclusively homosexual rather than bisexual:

“Exclusive male homosexuality is thus far only found in humans, sheep and some bird species, but rates of bisexual male mating behavior are moderate to high in numerous group-living species, including humans.”

The homosexual behavior displayed in the animal kingdom may, they believe, be an adaptation that actually increased their chances of finding a female partner and fathering young.

Do you agree with researchers that the purpose of homosexuality in animals, like the Atlantic molly, is more to attract a female than to actually engage in homosexual behavior?