Female gorillas having homosexual acts were documented by a researcher from the University of Western Australia.
The said observation is the first detailed evidence that female gorillas indeed engage in homosexual behaviors. Bonobos are known to have a diverse sexual history, although there is limited information about whether homosexual behaviors exist among Great Apes.
The scientist behind the discovery is Cyril Grueter, who was investigating about the foraging ecology of gorillas that settle in Rwandan mountains. During that time, he observed some homosexual behaviors among female gorillas, instigating him to probe further.
Grueter studied 22 female gorillas and out of that number, 18 were discovered to engage in activities, such as rubbing or touching self against another gorilla of the same sex.
Grueter found this observation intriguing that he decided to test three hypotheses that may explain the species dominance based on social status, the reinforcement of social links and reconciliation post fight.
"None of the three hypotheses received any consistent support," confirms Grueter.
Therefore, Grueter proceeded to consider a more common explanation, which is the notion that homosexual behaviors signify increased arousal. This is derived from proofs showing that same-sex behavior was more rampant when females also partake in heterosexual intercourse.
What is more, Grueter observed that females paid attention to their fellow females after a male did not show interest in their signals. Therefore, females look as if they were substitute outlets for libido.
Because the experiment was performed in free gorillas, it signifies that the homosexual behaviors exuded by the females were but natural.
Similarity With Humans
Gorillas are closely related to humans, and this is why Grueter thinks his study may help understand human homosexual behaviors as well.
For one, both female gorillas and humans have long been documented to have the ability to shift from homosexual to heterosexual sex. The implications of the gorilla study in humans may, therefore, be very significant.
The study was published in the journal PLOS One on May 11.