'Sexual depravity' of penguins that Antarctic scientist dared not reveal

Saturday, June 9, 2012 - 05:50 in Earth & Climate

Landmark polar research about the Adelie penguin's sex life by Captain Scott's expedition, deemed too shocking for the public 100 years ago, is unearthed at the Natural History MuseumIt was the sight of a young male Adelie penguin attempting to have sex with a dead female that particularly unnerved George Murray Levick, a scientist with the 1910-13 Scott Antarctic Expedition. No such observation had ever been recorded before, as far as he knew, and Levick, a typical Edwardian Englishman, was horrified. Blizzards and freezing cold were one thing. Penguin perversion was another.Worse was to come, however. Levick spent the Antarctic summer of 1911-12 observing the colony of Adelies at Cape Adare, making him the only scientist to this day to have studied an entire breeding cycle there. During that time, he witnessed males having sex with other males and also with dead females, including several that had died the previous...

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