Is it the Bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey?

Filed under Education, Science

Is it the Bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey?

Or, Are the  Sexual Habits of Penguins Really Just THAT Interesting?

 

In an ‘off the topic’ announcement, there is a previously unreleased study that details the lewd and more than slightly lascivious sexual behaviors of penguins that has been released to the world. (No, I’m not kidding.)

 

Although I thought there would be nothing as humorous to me as taking a cardboard cut-out of Tim Tebow to your prom, this one I have to say has taken the number one spot for 2012 thus far.

 

Apparently, this particular data was compiled during Captain Robert Scott’s journey to the South Pole in the early 1900s, and has finally been published after being kept ‘locked in the closet’ for nearly a century because of the overly-explicit content. Yes, I have to interject a little humor here. We all know that daytime soap operas became more than explicit over two decades ago. Not to mention, one of the most talked about bestsellers is a novel regarding a Dominant and his Submissive that is readily available on stands everywhere. (In some stores, it’s even next to the candy where the children stand with their parents in the checkout line.)

 

So, should we really get ‘up in arms’ over penguins? Well, you have to take into consideration that this  particular paper – “The Sexual Habits of the Adélie Penguins,” was written during a time where ‘explicit’ was actually still explicit. It was in 1915 when Dr. George Levick – who was a surgeon and medical officer during Scott’s legendary 1910-1913 Antarctic expedition – put these particular observations down on paper. The sex lives of these cute, flightless birds who were made seriously acceptable in “Happy Feet” and “Happy Feet Two,” were “too graphic for society in 1915,” so it wasn’t published with the rest of the expedition’s reports.

 

Thankfully, for all the people out there who really want to know exactly why these birds may have extremely ‘Happy Feet,’ one hundred copies of Levick’s pamphlet were preserved. Why speak about this now? Because this was truly forgotten history until one of only two remaining copies was recently discovered – by complete accident – at the Natural History Museum by bird curator, Douglas Russell.

 

It was Matt McGrath, BBC News Science Reporter, who released his interview with Russell on Saturday to tell the world how it all came about:

 

“I just happened to be going through the file on George Murray Levick when I shifted some papers and found underneath them this extraordinary paper which was headed ‘the sexual habits of the Adelie penguin. Not for Publication was written in large black type.” (They really should’ve stamped that on Fifty Shades of Grey, too. Of course, not because it was explicit and erotic, but because it was seriously boring.) But I digress…

 

Douglas Russell then helped the complete and unedited work be published in the journal, Polar Record.

 

From accounts of sexual coercion, sexual and physical abuse of chicks, non-procreative sex, and an account of homosexual behavior of the penguins, apparently it is truly a fascinating work.

 

According to a June 9th AFP story detailing the discovery, Levick was the first and only, thus far (although, I have a sense that there will now be others) scientist to ever observe an entire penguin breeding cycle at Cape Adare.

 

The actual expedition didn’t end joyously for some (except the penguins, perhaps), because Scott and four other members of his expedition died after reaching the South Pole in 1912. Levick and five others did survive and returned with this report to England.

 

Now, I may be being funny in this article. However, by now, I would assume that’s what readers would expect from me. But I should state that, according to Russell:

 

“Levick’s notes were decades ahead of their time and possibly the first ever attempt to reveal the more challenging aspects of bird behavioral strategies to the academic world.” This was Russell’s comment as he went on in his statement to say: “I’m very pleased that ninety-seven years after Levick submitted it for publication, the study has finally been published.”

 

I am, too. And, no, I’m not being funny. I am and will always remain a complete and utter proponent of education, so I will agree that it’s amazing and well-noted that this particular study has now seen the light of day.

 

What does my more sarcastic edge say? You know, that little devil-type person sitting on my other shoulder? Well…when he whispers in my ear all I can say is, “Good for you, penguins! (Except for the abuse because that’s disgusting). But you need to do something besides fish.” And, let‘s face it, when you put penguins up against the issues of today, the Real Housewives would still put a blush in those cute, little flightless birds’ cheeks.

 

Until Next Time, Everybody,

Amy

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