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CROSS-SPECIES COMPARISONS: OTHER SEXUAL BEHAVIORS

When other human and animal sexual behaviors are compared, we find both similarities and differences. One major difference has to do with breeding seasons. Humans are typically receptive to sexual stimulation at all times, even at those times during the female's menstrual cycle when conception is unlikely. This is not true among lower organisms. Most animal females are truly receptive only while in estrus, thus increasing the likelihood of conception and procreation of the species. Male animals are not likely to make appetitive responses unless a receptive female in estrus is available, although this does occur on occasion.

Most nondomesticated or feral animals have a specific breeding season, thus insuring that the offspring of such matings will be born at a time most suitable to survival (usually late winter or spring). Jensen (1976) reports that this phenomenon also seems to occur among humans, in that there is a slight but significant tendency toward seasonal births. He further suggests that this tendency may be due to meteorological factors, since the two hemispheres of the earth have opposite seasons and correspondingly opposite peaks of birth. The exact reasons for this phenomenon, however, are as yet unknown.

The specific structure of relationship or bonding patterns varies greatly in the animal world (Lorenz, 1966), just as it does among humans. Some species form permanent, lifelong bonds between two individuals. Other species, such as many herding animals, may exhibit a pattern in which one dominant male is involved in mating with several females. In other species, mating is more of a random event, with the female being receptive to the first available male and with absolutely no long-term bond being formed. The female of certain insect species ensures no long-term bonding by eating her mate after impregnation!

One type of relationship pattern, promiscuity, has generally been thought of as a typically human behavior. However, frequent and apparently indiscriminate mating has been reported in at least one nonhuman species. During her observational study of chimpanzees living in the wild, Jane Van Lawick-Goodall (1968) observed one female chimpanzee who mated with a dozen different males in the same number of minutes.

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Men's Health-Erectile Dysfunction