Thursday, February 17, 2005

Feminist lizards take the male out of the picture

Mike asks whether there is any empirical evidence for lesbianism. The closest I could find is this account of Fake Sex in Virgin Whiptail Lizards:
Only females exist in several species of the lizards of the genus Cnemidophorus, which might seem like a problem when it comes time to propagate the species. The females don’t need the males though, they reproduce by parthenogenesis, a form of reproduction in which an unfertilized egg develops into a new individual. So basically, the females don’t need the males; they just produce clones of themselves as a form of reproduction. Despite the fact that it is unnecessary and futile to attempt copulation with each other, the lizards still like to try, and occasionally one of the females will start to “act like a male” by attempting to copulate with another female. The lizards evolved from a sexual species and the behavior to copulate like a male -- to engage in fake sex -- is a vestigial behavior; that is, a behavior present in a species, but is expressed in an imperfect form, which in this case, is useless.
The item is no. 3 on a science site's top 10 vestigial organs. No, it does not try to relate the feminist lizards to human beings.

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