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Scientists have documented gay necrophilia among Sand Martin birds in Japan

Scientists have documented gay necrophilia among Sand Martin birds in Japan

Two Japanese ornithologists have documented same-sex necrophilia among Sand Martin birds for the first time in a report recently published by the Ornithological Society of Japan.

Naoki Tomita and Yasuko Iwami from the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology in Abiko filmed a group of male Sand Martins approaching a dead Sand Martin by the side of a road in 2014 to document their behavior.

According to the researchers, the dead bird was lying in a submissive position, ‘face down on the ground, with its wings spread and lowered.’

They then witnessed one of the birds fighting off the other two from attempting to mate with the dead Sand Martin before mounting it himself.

After observing the birds for 15 minutes the researcher collected the dead bird and a subsequent dissection revealed that it was also a male

Unlike many other bird species where there are obvious differences in size, plumage or other physical characteristics between the sexes, male and female Sand Martins look very similar and the researchers postulate this may be a factor why male Sand Martins would try to mount a deceased male bird.

‘Based on our observations, we propose that the observed homosexual necrophilia may be partly explained by the absence of sexual dimorphism in this species and the posture of the dead martin,’ they suggested.

‘We suggest that posture is an important trigger arousing male sex drive in a sexually monomorphic species.’

The first published research on homosexual necrophilia among birds was published by Kees Moeliker of the Natural History Museum Rotterdam in 2003 for which he was awarded an Ig Nobel Prize.

Necrophilia has been documented in around 30 bird species.

Homosexual parings between living birds have been documented as common among many bird species.

However Moeliker agreed that in this instance that the positioning of the bird’s body was probably what prompted the males to try to mate with it.

‘It’s a mistake,’ he told New Scientist magazine.