People who are sexually attracted to animals are often referred to as "zoophiles" in the psychological literature. Zoophilia is something that has long been considered a paraphilia, meaning an uncommon sexual interest. Although zoophilia is something that most people have heard of before, very little research exists on the subject. So what do we know about the psychology behind zoophilia anyway?Read More
I've been reading and hearing a lot about spotted hyenas in the media lately. They caught my attention because, well, hyenas don't usually show up in my newsfeed very often (or at all). However, in the process, I learned a lot about hyenas--and hyena sex. And it's pretty fascinating stuff.Read More
Throughout the animal kingdom, genitals are very complex—way more complex than they are in humans. Take the male argonaut octopus, for example, which has a detachable penis that can swim on its own. Or consider female kangaroos, which have three vaginas and two uteruses each. On the surface, these genitals might seem way more complicated than they actually need to be for reproductive purposes. So why is that?Read More
Sometimes, science makes us laugh before it makes us think--and this is precisely why the Ig Nobel awards were founded back in 1991. The goal of these awards is to recognize scientific achievements that might sound silly or absurd at first, but that ultimately yield useful knowledge and challenge us to think differently about the world.
I have a sneaking suspicion that one of the contenders for the next Ig Nobel competition will be a new paper published in the journal PLOS ONE, which explores what the faces of humans and the rear ends of chimpanzees have in common.
Yep, that's really what they studied. But please bear with me--I promise, it's a funny story that tells us something fascinating about both sex and psychology.Read More
On average, women in the United States hit menopause at age 51. At this point, they enter what some scientists call a “post-reproductive lifespan” (or PRLS for short), during which their bodies are no longer physically capable of sexual reproduction. Compared to other species, women are not unique in having a PRLS. In fact, so many primate and non-primate species show evidence of a PRLS that it has been classified as "a general mammalian trait" . However, the thing that is unique about humans is the relative length of the female PRLS.
So why does menopause account for such a large proportion of women’s lives?Read More
Sexual contact between members of the same sex has been documented in numerous animal species. Several scientific explanations for this phenomenon have been proposed over the years, many of which have argued that the underlying reason may be adaptive. For example, the social glue hypothesis argues that same-sex behavior evolved because it plays a role in the establishment and maintenance of relationships among members of the same sex.
However, a new study published in the journal Behavioral Ecology suggests that animals’ same-sex behavior may not necessarily need to have an adaptive cause. Instead, it may sometimes arise from very specific environmental factors, such as a high population density combined with a heavily skewed sex ratio.Read More
In this fascinating and humorous TED talk, evolutionary biologist Dr. Marlene Zuk offers a look into the sexual practices of a wide range of insects, from dragonflies to honey bees to kadydids to ants. Zuk reveals that insects break many of the rules we think we know about male and female mating practices. In fact, this video will undoubtedly lead many views to question some of their most fundamental ideas and assumptions about what's "normal" and "natural" when it comes to sex and mating.Read More
In my line of work, I’m always learning about new and unusual sexual desires. One of the most intriguing ones I have ever come across is vorarephilia, which has been described as “the erotic desire to consume, or be consumed whole and live by another person or creature” . That’s right—we’re talking about people who derive sexual arousal from the thought of literally eating (or being eaten by) someone or something. There isn’t much research out there on this topic, but I happened to see a presentation on it at the International Academy of Sex Research conference earlier this month. In this post, I’ll share a few of the most interesting findings from it.Read More
Humans aren’t the only ones that have to deal with sexually transmitted infections—animals do too. Indeed, chlamydia, syphilis, and several other STIs known all too well among humans have been documented in the animal kingdom with some frequency. Among primates, however, one STI that is unique to humans is gonorrhea. This observation has led some scientists to question why. What gave rise to gonorrhea in humans, but not in other primate species? Some scientists argue that it might have something to do with the fact that humans frequently practice oral sex, a behavior that is rare in non-human primates.Read More
Psychologists have discovered that people can develop sexual fetishes for a wide range of objects, with some of the most common being articles of clothing, including underwear, lingerie, and stockings (for a look at some of the more unusual fetishes ever documented, check out this article). But where do these highly specific sexual interests come from in the first place? Scientists have long argued that conditioning processes might serve as a viable explanation, and a growing number studies (mostly focused on animals rather than humans) have supported this view. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the evidence.Read More
Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from a male reader who wanted to know the following:
“I seem to have a problem with sexual arousal and women I am emotionally attached to. When I met my wife, we were very sexually active, but that dwindled as we got deeper into our relationship. I thought at first maybe it was my age, but I have found myself aroused over female friends and acquaintances. The good thing is this has never developed into an affair but I would like to figure out what is wrong with me so that my wife and I can be intimate. This problem predates my wife and in the past, my girlfriends would have to at least pretend to indulge a fantasy of a threesome of them being intimate with someone else (dirty talk about it) just for me to get aroused. So I believe there is a correlation between arousal and degrees of familiarity.”Read More
Centuries ago, Aristotle proposed the concept of telegony, which suggests that the traits of offspring are not only influenced by their biological parents, but also by the mother’s former mates. This idea never really caught on with scientists, though, because it failed to generate much empirical support. Indeed, so little evidence has been found for it that some encyclopedic descriptions of telegony chalk it up to nothing more than “superstition.” However, a new study just published in the journal Ecology Letters provides some provocative experimental support for telegony and suggests that we may have been too quick to dismiss this ideaRead More
Did you know that the argonaut octopus has a flying, detachable penis? Or that female kangaroos have three vaginas? Or that female hyenas have clitorises so large that people often mistake them for penises? These are just some of the many incredible genital variations found in nature. To learn more, check out the short video below from our friends over at ASAP Thought.Read More
A few years back, I posted an article about the most unusual (and amusing) study of animal sex I have ever read, which concerned the world’s first known case of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard duck (click here to read it). To date, it remains the single most popular story on the blog, having been read hundreds of thousands of times. Who needs to learn about human sex when you can be learning about dead duck sex instead, right? In light of the enduring popularity of this article, a short follow-up seemed appropriate.Read More
Bacteria and viruses are crafty little organisms. They need to be spread quickly from host to host in order to survive, so they tend to evolve in ways that ensure fast and efficient transmission. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are no exception. Consider this: part of the reason STIs are so widely spread in humans is because many infections (e.g., chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV) take weeks or months (or even longer) for symptoms to set in, but during that entire period of time, the host remains highly infectious. For an STI to be spread even faster, all it would have to do is capitalize on this asymptomatic period by working as an aphrodisiac and increasing the host’s desire for sex. Although I am not aware of any research suggesting that STIs increase libido in humans to help them infect even more people, research has found an STI in crickets that seems to do something like this.Read More
“The diversity that we see in sexual structures in the animal kingdom that has evolved in response to the multitude of factors surrounding reproduction is pretty mind-blowing.” – Carin Bondar
In what is perhaps my new favorite TED video, biologist Carin Bondar describes the science behind how animals get it on. She details the importance of not just looking at the form of animals’ sexual anatomy, but also how their reproductive structures function, because both form an function have major implications not just for how sex happens, but for how societies evolve.Read More
Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from a reader who wanted to know the following:
Do animals have orgasms during sex?Read More
How attractive do you find the prospect of sex with animals? Do you think it would be fun to watch another person urinate? Do you find shoes erotic? If you’re like most people, you probably said that these things aren’t exactly up your alley. However, if you were asked these same questions while you were in a heightened state of sexual arousal, research suggests that you might perceive them at least a little differently. Scientists have found that when we’re feeling very sexually aroused, things that we might otherwise perceive as gross or disgusting don’t seem quite as bad.Read More
Death can come any time, any place…even in the bedroom. It’s rare, but people sometime die during sexual activity, including both masturbation and partnered sex. Most research on this topic has focused on how there is an elevated risk of heart attacks during sex, but believe it or not, that’s far from the only reason that some people have died while attempting to “get it on.” In this article, we’ll take a look at five of the most unusual sex-related deaths. Actually, let’s make that four deaths and one case of attempted murder by sex.Read More
Paraphilia is the term that psychologists use to refer to an unusual sexual interest. Psychologists have documented hundreds of paraphilias over the years, including fetishism, sadomasochism, exhibitionism, and voyeurism. Paraphilias span a wide range of behaviors and, contrary to popular belief having a paraphilia does not necessarily mean that one has a disorder. One paraphilia that has received surprisingly little research attention is sexual interest in non-human animals. The infographic below reveals some of the experiences and psychological characteristics of men who have reported sexual experiences with at least one member of the animal kingdom. There are differing opinions on whether an animal can consent to sex with a human; however, many psychologists have argued that animals cannot consent and, therefore, that such behavior is necessarily victimizing to the other creatures.Read More