Now, New York magazine’s Science of Us blog reports (by way of a new article in Behavioral Ecology) that researchers spent seven years observing a mostly male tortoise population on a Macedonian island.
They discovered that the tortoises were copulating with not only female tortoises but also one another.
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They were also having sex with juvenile tortoises and dead male tortoises. In fact, they’d even try mating with empty tortoise shells.
In short, they’re positively wild.
Researchers theorized that the male tortoises were so polymorphously perverse because, to quote Science of Us, “When the male tortoises got sexually excited, couldn’t find a female, and needed an outlet, they were less discerning, and there’s been no good evolutionary reason to ‘correct’ this behavior.”
The article continues:
In other words, from an evolutionary perspective, it’s useful for sexually aroused male tortoises to be aggressively trying to copulate with anything that looks like a female tortoise, because generally speaking the end result will be, well, copulation with a female tortoise who will, if all goes well, end up laying some eggs. And in situations where there aren’t a lot of females around anyway, there’s no real downside to them messing around with other males.”