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Biological Exuberance Biological Exuberance

By Bruce Bagemihl, Ph.D.

Male gorillas courting and copulating with each other ... grizzly bear families with two mothers ... same-sex pairs of flamingos ...

Homosexuality in its myriad forms has been scientifically documented in more than 450 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, and other animals worldwide. Biological Exuberance is the first comprehensive account of the subject, bringing together accurate, accessible, and nonsensational information.

Drawing upon a rich body of zoological research spanning more than two centuries, Bruce Bagemihl shows that animals engage in all types of nonreproductive sexual behavior. Sexual and gender expression in the animal world displays exuberant variety, including same-sex courtship, pair-bonding, sex, and co-parenting -- even instances of lifelong homosexual bonding in species that do not have lifelong heterosexual bonding. Biological Exuberance also exposes a new side to the "nature vs. nurture" debate by exploring the social and cultural dimensions of homosexuality within animal communities (particularly among primates).

Squirrel Monkeys
A male Squirrel Monkey (right) performing a "genital display" toward another male Illustration by John Megahan, © 1999.

Part 1, "A Polysexual, Polygendered World," begins with a survey of homosexuality, transgender, and nonreproductive heterosexuality in animals and then delves into the broader implications of these findings, including a valuable perspective on human diversity. Bagemihl also examines the hidden assumptions behind the way biologists look at natural systems and suggests a fresh perspective based on the synthesis of contemporary scientific insights with traditional knowledge from indigenous cultures.

Part 2, "A Wondrous Bestiary," profiles more than 190 species in which scientific observers have noted homosexual or transgender behavior. Each profile is a verbal or visual "snapshot" of one or more closely related bird or mammal species, containing all the documentation required to support the author's often controversial conclusions.

Lavishly illustrated (with 67 black & white photos and 179 drawings) and meticulously researched, filled with fascinating facts and astonishing descriptions of animal behavior, Biological Exuberance is a landmark book that will change forever how we look at nature.

"For anyone who has ever doubted the 'naturalness' of homosexual, bisexual, and transgendered behaviors, this remarkable book, which demonstrates and celebrates the sexual diversity of life on earth, will surely lay those doubts to rest. The massive evidence of the wondrous complexity of sexuality in the natural world that Bagemihl has marshaled will inform, entertain, and persuade academic and lay readers alike. Biological Exuberance is a revolutionary work."

-- Lillian Faderman, author of Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America

"A brilliant and important exercise in exposing the limitations of received opinion ... What might so easily have turned into a tub-thumping activist tract hitched to the need for acceptance of homosexuality in humans is instead elevated to a hugely inclusive, celebratory biological interpretation of the world."

-- Publishers Weekly

Bruce Bagemihl, Ph. D., is a biologist and researcher who has served on the faculty of the University of British Columbia, where he taught linguistics and cognitive science. He has published diverse essays and scientific articles on issues pertaining to language, biology, gender, and sexuality. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity
St. Martin's Press, 1999, hardcover; 784 pages, 67 b&w photos, 179 b&w drawings; $40.00 US/$62.00 Canada

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Copyright © 1999 Bruce Bagemihl.

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