Homosexuality will lead to enslavement of humanity by ducks

October 25, 2012 • 3:33 am

UPDATE: The letter is real. As reader “Beanfeast” points out in the comments, stuff.co.nz talked to Jasmin and her mom, who verified the letter’s authenticity. So I retract my claim below that it’s fake. That, of course, makes the letter even worse.  And it’s a lesson to all of us not to be so quick to assume that letters or photos that seem too good to be true aren’t true! When it comes to religion, it’s hard to tell a Poe from the real thing.


Someone once asked H. L. Mencken why, if he disliked the United States so much, he continued to live here. His answer was “Why do people go to zoos?”  Well, I suppose the same holds for much of the world—certainly New Zealand.

The title of this post comes from a piece on Gawker.  It’s unbelievable. A 14-year-old homeschooled girl in New Zealand purportedly wrote the following letter to the editor of a local newspaper. The letter, as a commenter points out below, is almost certainly a fake.

Note that she invokes evolution even though she doesn’t accept it.

Although the letter almost certainly isn’t real, there are two important points:

1. A newspaper published it. Did they check on who “Jasmin” was before they did? Every time I get a letter to the editor printed, someone at the paper checks to verify that I really did write it. And why would they publish this thing? Is it a mockery of creationism? It’s not sarcastic enough to be clear.

2. THEY GOT THE BIOLOGY WRONG. Someone should tell “Jasmin” that ducks not only display homosexuality, but homosexual necrophilia (see this article and the scientific paper behind it).

On 5 June 1995, while he was sitting in his office at the Natuurmuseum Rotterdam, [C. W.] Moeliker heard the distinctive thud of a bird hitting the glass facade of the building. Upon inspection, he discovered a drake mallard lying dead about two meters from the building. An adult male mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) had collided with the glass façade of the Natuurhistorisch Museum Rotterdam and died.

Next to the downed bird there was a second drake mallard standing close by. As he observed the odd couple, the living drake picked at the corpse of the dead one for a few minutes and then, without provocation, it mounted the corpse and began copulating with it. This other drake mallard raped the corpse almost continuously for 75 minutes, in which time, according to Moeliker, the living drake took two short breaks before resuming with copulating behavior. Then the author disturbed the scene and secured the dead duck. Dissection showed that the rape-victim indeed was of the male sex.

Moeliker surmised that at the time of the collision with the window the two mallards were engaged in a common motif in duck behavior which is called rape flight. “When one died the other one just went for it and didn’t get any negative feedback—well, didn’t get any feedback,” according to Moeliker.

After the live bird was shooed away, inspection of the dead mallard revealed that it was male, thus making this the first observed case of homosexual necrophilia in mallards. The case was reported scientifically in Deinsea 8-2001, along with photos. The paper also netted Moeliker an Ig Nobel Prize in biology awarded for improbable research.

The paper also notes this:

Bagemihl (1999) in his well-researched and exhaustive overview of animal homosexuality, showed that in the mallard ‘the proportion of male homosexual pairs varies between populations, anywhere from 2-19 percent of all pairs’. So, male homosexuality can be regarded as a common phenomenon among mallards. According to Bagemihl, drake pairs, however, do not exhibit overt sexual activity: they normally only show behaviour that preludes copulation but neither partner mounts the other. Interestingly, Bagemihl (1999) noted that ‘some males in homosexual pairs have been observed attempting to rape or forcibly copulate with males outside their pairbond’. Initially, this may have been the case on 5 June 1995: the drake attempted to rape NMR 9997-00232 who fled, and the two got engaged in a true homosexual ARF.


Moeliker, C. W. 2001.  The first case of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard Anas platyrhynchos (Aves: Anatidae).  Deinsia 8:243-247

h/t: Shuggy

94 thoughts on “Homosexuality will lead to enslavement of humanity by ducks

  1. Poe? And certainly not 14. Adult writing voice, reference to “my children”, brilliant use of language, surreal premise. A great writer with a great future. But not, I’m sure, a homophobe or creationist.

    1. Yes, almost certainly a fake. I’ve changed the post a bit to reflect that. My point was that whoever wrote it got the biology wrong!

  2. When one copulates with a corpse is that rape?

    When one copulates with a corpse & one doesn’t know it’s a corpse is that rape?

    Anyway I liked the bit at the end of the post ~ “…Initially, this may have been the case on 5 June 1995: the drake attempted to rape NMR 9997-00232 who fled, and the two got engaged…”

  3. In Britland we might say ‘someone’s having a laugh’. As students we used to compete by writing absurd letters to local news rags in the hope that someone would take us seriously.

    Re the mallards, I couldn’t help smiling when I read:

    >the distinctive thud of a bird hitting
    >the glass facade of the building
    >… and then, without provocation,
    >it mounted the corpse and began
    >copulating with it

    under what circumstances would Moeliker have said “the living drake was provoked”?
    I see him sitting in his bookshelf clad office, when “damn, there goes another mallard”.

  4. “…ducks will get you in the end.”

    Oh, that sounds painful. 🙁

    Yes, I’m sure the author is an adult, I’m sure I didn’t write like that when I was 14. I wonder if the bit I’ve quoted was intentional.

    1. I have had a quotation on the wall in front of me since the 1990s:
      ‘Mr Lindberg said the fact was that at this time it was mainly gay men in New Zealand who had Aids or carried the virus “But it is not mostly gay men who will get it in the end.”‘

      “I’m sure I didn’t write like that when I was 14.”
      But then, you probably weren’t homeschooled.

  5. I’m a hunter of several types of fowl, including ducks and wild turkey. I’ve never seen the subject behavior in ducks, i.e., when a duck has been shot dead, I’ve never seen another duck approach it for any purpose. However, is is rather common amongst turkey hunters to see, once a tom turkey has been shot dead in the spring hunt(mating season), to see another, and in some case more than one, that had been traveling with it, run to it and mount it as if to copulate, and to spray semen on it in the process. The dead and mounted tom typically would have appeared to be dominant to the other(s). This occurs in the presence of a camouflaged/concealed hunter, a dead victim that the live birds have seen killed, and immediately after a shotgun discharge in the presence of the live toms.

    1. Interesting. Why does the stress of this surprising situation cause the sexual excitement modules of the sub-dominant males to activate?

      Is it a kind of “our leader has fallen!” cry of anguish, with the sexual excitement being triggered “accidentally” by neural messaging that normally does more useful things?

      Or is it more like a jubilant declaration that “the king — whose priority with females was troublesome — is dead!”

      Or is it more a competitive sexual fitness display: “Now I should be the new alpha, cuz look at how much my dong can spray!”

  6. Wikipedia gives a long list of examples (plus references) of homosexual behavior among animals. One could conclude that sexual interactions between individuals of the same sex is much more natural than strictly heterosexual fun.
    For a long time biologists did not publish their observations on homosexual behavior among animals, probably because of a misguided sens of prudery (or maybe they were afraid to be censored?).

      1. Apologies if I sound stupid – I’m not a biologist and I’ve only read these comments quickly but as you can’t pass on homosexuality through genes and no-one has mentioned bisexual behaviour could it just be all to do with inherited sex drive especially if you read the comments about turkeys v mallards?

            1. You can’t pass on a gene for exclusively male-male behaviour directly, but if a gene that conferred same-sex attraction in males (and as usual, lesbians are ignored) also conferred greater fertility on females, it would increase reproductive fitness overall and be maintained.

              And the same for a lesbian gene, mutatis mutandis?

              1. Phew. It sounds possible but a bit of a long shot however, I bow to your superior knowledge and thank you for helping me.

        1. Dear Gretchen,

          My current studies on Evolution and Human Behaviour suggests that male homosexuality is indeed heritable i.e., twin studies indicate there may be a genetic component, and that is it possibly X-link recessive.


          1. Thanks Mary,

            Are we talking about identical twins? Having briefly studied phycology, I’m left with more questions.

            Is there a publication or paper you can recommend?

            Best wishes

    1. As far as I know many species exhibit sexual behavior ranging from copulation to sexual play focused on their own as well as on the opposite sex. So I think the term bisexuality applies. Bonobos and whales are a good example. Undoubtedly this contributes to strenghten bonds between individual animals, including individuals of the same sex. Penguins couples hatching egges are sometime all-male. First one of them fathers the eggs and then just takes them away from the mother. Those male hatchers are supposed to do better in defending ‘their’ egges than heterosexual couples. An example of evolutionary advantage of gay sexuality ?

  7. “…it’s hard to tell a Poe from the real thing.”

    If you could tell the difference, it wouldn’t conform to Poe’s Law!

  8. “I don’t want my children to have to compete with ducks”. What a great line! I expect it will appear on t-shirts and signs at the next Republican convention. Does Fox News know about this? They should be warning America about the imminent web-footed takeover. Now that I think about it, I always had my suspicions about Duffy Duck, and now I know why.

  9. Oh you dear, sweet, naive colleagues of mine (ok- I’m kidding- no name calling here!). Yes, there are many, many children out there who grow up in very “religious science”-minded homes, where they are drilled on things like creationism/ID, flood geology, biblical archaeology, and the like, so they are well prepared to defend their beliefs in public school classrooms. These children really do really believe this shit. They truly, honestly do. Perhaps it’s because they are taught to have an absolute, blind trust in the words of their parents and pastors and be critical of their school teachers; perhaps it’s a failure of the science education in this country. Or a combination of many things. But as a former YEC evangelical from the great state of Alabama, that this letter might be a fake never even crossed my mind until I started reading others’ comments.

    1. Add homosexuality and general bio to the list, too. The homeschooling community in the U.S. at least (I don’t know about other countries) has an intense fear of all things biology, and they train children to associate real bio with the devil and aggressively attack the secularization of their communities and defend their beliefs. Much of their heathen science knowledge is a list of memorized satanic keywords and phrases, which they regurgitate at random when threatened — as is clearly reflected in this letter…

      None of what I just wrote made any sense when I reread it. Need Coffee Now.

      1. What you wrote made sense to me. Even some mainline Protestants buy into the idea that nature study is evil. Creationism is the excuse, but I think the real reason is that if kids are fascinated by bugs and rocks, they’re looking at something that is not human (which lifts them out of that tiny god-is-a-man box) and trying to understand it (Eek! Rational thought!) It’s a huge threat to preachers and xtian parents who base their authority on promoting fear and ignorance.

        1. They might also learn that mammals function very like humans, reptiles less so, fish and invertebrates even less so, and so on, and put two and two together….

    2. I would add that many of these children have no choice BUT to believe what their families and religious leaders are cramming down their throats. If they aren’t exposed to any other ideas, and critical thought of any sort is punished severely, rolling with the irrational world as presented to them is a survival trait.

      1. Why isn’t lying to trusting children a crime, or at least a tort? Any lawyers want to take on a class action suit?

        1. Maybe as the home-schooled brigade grows up and realise they’ve been lied to, some of them might sue. That seems to be the only way anything changes these days.

  10. I wonder what it says about me that, as soon as I got to Jasmin’s bit where she described the mating habits of ducks, I immediately thought of the Ig Nobel.

    Any bets on whether or not her letter to the editor will get a mention in next year’s ceremonies?


  11. Even though the letter is real, don’t you think she was just being a bit cheeky with the whole duck thing? I thought she was using the duck analogy as a humorous device, especially ending with “the ducks will get you in the end.”

    1. Since she doesn’t even accept evolutionary theory, it’s hard to know what the hell she was trying to say. Ninety percent of the letter was about the evolutionary problems associated with homosexuality (as she sees them), and the last paragraph announces her disbelief in any of it. Like so much of religion, it’s a mystery.

  12. The young girl was obviously referring to those aggressive “Crocoducks”- they DO bear watching!

    Prison saying: “The only thing worse than being a bitch is being the bitch of a snitch’s bitch.”

  13. The girl got it all wrong. Homosexuality doesn’t lead to the world being taken over by ducks, it leads to sex with ducks, as Pat Robertson made clear several years ago.

    1. Gah, you beat me to it! Every time I’ve seen this letter, this song pops into my head. Try explaining singing THAT under your breath to your classmates….

    1. It was probably _written_ by her, in the sense that she pressed the keys on her computer; but I’d give 100 to 1 that her homeschooling parents told her what to say.

  14. Humans HAVE ceased to evolve. But this isn’t because of “teh gay”, it’s because of our brains. We’ve replaced death and other mechanisms of natural selection with medicine and social welfare. Humans who would not have reproduced due to disease or death now do so.

    The next stage is to build gene spinners, machines which let us custom create human zygotes to our own design.

    “Gay or straight, short or tall, fat or thin we’ll make them all”.

    BTW, don’t blame the Kiwis. Blame the home schooling idiots.

    1. “have ceased” is such a short-term view; assuming any of us survive the next 50 years, all the normal modes of mortality will be back in full swing.

      In the meantime, people of all ages are still dying (at a reduced rate per anno) from a wide variety of infections, accidents, toxins, parasites, predators, neoplasms, and failures of communication.

      Whatever we do, natural selection always operates. Even on Kiwis, brains, and homeschoolers.

    2. Em…you might want to look up the definition of the word, “evolve.” Because the rest of your first paragraph describes some of the potentially most potent driving forces of evolutionary change possible.


  15. As a homeschooler, I’m laughing at all the comments about how that couldn’t possibly be the writing of a 14 year old. Lol! Yes, they come in a variety of skill levels and educational quality, same as anybody else, but that also includes the fabulous confluence of high skill level and good education. Setting aside the purposeful miseducation regarding science, her family is obviously doing a good job with the basics, like grammar.

    1. That was my thought too. Homeschooling as such is not evil, (I was nearly homeschooled at one stage when I was a school-refuser, but it was unheard-of in those days) it’s with what they’re homeschooled.

  16. Hopefully when this girl gets older and goes out in the real world she will realise just how many things she got wrong in her little letter.

    BTW I am a kiwi, so I can assure you this is not the way all kiwis think.

  17. To Jasmin’s credit, she says we should abandon ancient ways of thinking. She’s obviously doing some creative thinking and trying to piece things together logically.

    She has just confused the Biblical parental teachings with desirable evolutionary outcomes.

    But she may only be a few years from getting things straight and becoming an atheist. She’s going to be really pissed at her parents when it dawns on her.

    1. I think you may be right. All of you should appreciate that being a creationist does mean you have a lower intelligence. It doesn’t mean you should be made fun of. It only means you want to believe in something higher than yourself. As someone who used to believe in creation the biblical way, I think I speak with some authority. Another point to consider – why should anyone who believes in evolution be an atheist? Have I set the cat amongst the pigeons? I hope so.

      1. “It doesn’t mean you should be made fun of.”

        The person should not be made fun of, but the belief itself certainly should be.

        If one wants to believe in something “higher than yourself” (whatever that means) you can go outside and look up. A plane will sooner or later fly over.

        1. Not an intelligent or inspiring response gbjames. This is a good illustration why creationist wont listen.

          1. Whether you are inspired by my observation or not is not my concern. My response is entirely appropriate to the idea that the world is 6000 years old. Creationists don’t listen because they are locked to a primitive faith-based worldview and refuse to acknowledge mountains of evidence demonstrating that they are wrong. This is a ridiculous worldview and, as such, deserves ridicule.

            1. You are right but what I am trying to get across in a way that everyone will understand is that ridicule only serves to work the opposite way.

              1. I don’t think that is true. It may not have the result of “converting” a creationist. That isn’t the purpose of ridiculing the ridiculous. However, it can have a laudatory result on bystanders… fence-sitters, who might be provoked to think about the subject.

                Do you think it is worth respecting the idea that the earth is flat? If someone sincerely believes this idea do you think the idea should be approached with respect?

              2. Response to gbjames comment below – Again, you are correct. There must be thousands of them that “sit on the fence” and I may have been a bit too quick with my response. Having said that, I really don’t know of any creationists that believe in a flat earth so you are more aware of the situation than I am. I can only respond with my knowledge about Jehovah’s witnesses. Also, I really appreciate you bothering to respond to my comments.

              3. I’m sure there are some creationists who think the earth is flat, but that’s not really my point. I’m just saying that these are equally ridiculous ideas. Neither is deserving of the least bit of respect so I have no sense of remorse when ridiculing the ideas. A creationist or a flat-earth-believer may take it personally and get offended, and so be it. Life is too short to respect bad ideas.

              4. If you are not interested in educating these misled individuals, so be it. If you are not bothered by upsetting them, so be it. The thing is – I don’t believe you. I perceive you are much more a(what is the word I’m searching for?)concerned truth seeking individual than you make out. Given the chance, you would be good at educating them.

              5. People educate themselves. Someone who is unwilling to accept obvious and clear evidence in favor of childish stories is not going to be influenced by any attempt of mine to educate them. And there is ample material available for someone who actually wants to learn about how their universe works.

                I’m all for making information widely available and making learning fun. I’m just don’t think that a closed mind is going to open up if I pretend that stupid ideas aren’t stupid.

              6. I had to look that one up! I still don’t really understand what you are trying to say but I’ll back off. My husband educated me on the facts of evolution and I was filled with excitement as well as fear. I’m no-one special so I thought others, with gentle nudging, could change the same. Now I find that evolutionists are just as narrow minded and that makes me feel disillusioned. All I see is discrimination and to be honest, there’s enough of that already. I only joined this site yesterday but already I think I need to leave and find a group more sympathetic to people who have led their whole lives leaning on something that isn’t there.

              7. You give yourself too little credit. You learned about evolution because you were willing and interested in doing so.

                What discrimination are you talking about? Is it discrimination to say that pigs don’t live in trees?

              8. What. Pigs don’t live in trees!!! Oh no. Okay gbjames, I’m just being a bit overly sensitive. I’m a woman – I evolved that way. I love the concept of evolution. It’s exciting, its progressive but I’m so naive and uneducated, I need to learn all I can. That’s why I here but heaven help anyone who thinks I’m stupid.

              9. “Oh please don’t go! We’ll eat you up! We love you so” (Maurice Sendak, Where The Wild Things Are)

                Please stay! You’ll learn a lot, and so will we. I for one appreciate your fresh approach and willingness to learn. I’m sure you’ll teach us a lot too. The riducule is only for the ridiculous, not for you.

              10. Thanks for the responses. I chose to stop being a JW because I couldn’t live up to their high standards. I didn’t leave because I stopped believing in creation. My future husband bought me a copy of “The Selfish Gene” which I could hardly put down but it didn’t convert me. What converted me was gentle drip feeding and friendly conversations. It’s really hard to give up something you believe in. Also, for the record, Jehovah’s Witnesses are really lovely, gentle, law abiding and supportive people. I’m sure you can come up with cases that don’t fit this but the majority are.

              11. Gretchen, there is no one single method of persuasion that is most effective for everybody. What works best for one person might be a turn-off for somebody else and only mildly effective for a third. And not all attempts of persuasion are targeted at those they’re ostensibly directed to.

                The art of persuasion is called, “rhetoric,” and the original treatise on the subject written a couple millennia ago by Aristotle remains one of the best. Much of what’s well-known that’s been written since dwells on methods to trick people into supporting positions not in their own best interests; Goebbels and Karl Rove represent the pinnacle of that style of rhetoric, with Machiavelli representing something of a middle position.

                And the field of psychology called “cognitive dissonance” helps to explain the mechanisms by which many of those rhetorical methods gain their effectiveness.

                It would do you well to spend some time getting up to speed on rhetoric and the psychology of persuasion. It will help you become more effective at persuasion, yourself, as well as better equipped to respond to attempts by others to persuade you.

                You also might want to spend some time on the part of Richard Dawkins’s Web site titled, “Convert’s Corner.” It’s nothing but wall-to-wall stories from real people detailing how they came to abandon faith in favor of reason. You’ll undoubtedly find echoes of your own story in there, but you’ll notice some other very different themes, as well.

                You might even want to add your own voice to that chorus….



              12. Gretchen, most people are lovely, gentle, law abiding and supportive people. Especially as individuals and to others within their smaller social groups. But the religions that they practice are usually quite different.

                I have JW relatives. I have cousins who were shunned by their mother. I have cousins who have been shunned by their sisters. The faith of the JW was largely responsible for the total breakup of my mother’s brother’s family. To this day (and I have seen quite a large number of days) I have cousins who have never had any contact with me, and likely never will, simply because I and the rest of the extended family are not Witnesses. (I’ll note that they have no idea of my atheism, never having been able to have the least bit of contact with any of their non-JW relatives.) I’m sure that these cousins of mine are nice people. But religion poisons everything, and family relations are not immune to the toxin.

              13. I’m sorry GBjames. I didn’t realize you had JWs in your family and I don’t know how to respond. Religion or at least a believe in something greater is as old as the hills. Even when new isolated communities have been discovered, this has been evident. Shall we just return to discussing evolution and I’ll shut up.

              14. The only reason I mention my family’s JW connection is to point out that vocal atheists are very often personally familiar with religion and religious people. We (generally) have no animus towards your average believer, although politicians, priests, and other public purveyors of religious stupidity are fair game. But mostly as I’ve tried to emphasize, it is manifestly bad ideas that we are attacking. WEIT (Jerry’s book… and a great read!) led to this web site being formed. Overwhelmingly, opposition to the evolutionary theory (a.k.a. “Biology”) is motivated by religion. And so it has come to pass that a lot of our energy goes that direction.

                And, slightly in a different direction, may I recommend Dan Barker’s book “Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America’s Leading Atheists”. It is a very good read and you may find some elements of commonality with his story (although his background is Pentecostal, not JW.)

      2. Gretchen, I think you probably intended to say “All of you should appreciate that being a creationist does NOT mean you have a lower intelligence” (I inserted the ‘not’)

        To answer your other point – “why should anyone who believes in evolution be an atheist?”
        I’d stand that on its head – ‘any atheist needs to believe in evolution’ – because it’s the only plausible explanation (other than ‘God did it’) as to how we got here. So believing in evolution certainly makes it easier to be an atheist. But an evolutionist doesn’t _need_ to be an atheist, evolution can still work perfectly well even if there is a god watching it happen, but evo does neutralise one of the main arguments for the existence of God, the ‘argument from design’.

        By the way, in another post you bemoaned the lack of sympathy and sarcasm shown by some posters. All I can say is, this site has a wide range of posters, some of who are more reasonable or diplomatic than others (and it may vary depending on the topic). I find some of them a bit narrow-minded too, possibly about different things than you do. Generally, it’s pretty mild compared with some sites I could name, Ceiling Cat (aka Jerry) tends to moderate things pretty well. So stick around, but don’t take anything too personally unless it’s obviously aimed directly at you.

        1. But an evolutionist doesn’t _need_ to be an atheist, evolution can still work perfectly well even if there is a god watching it happen, but evo does neutralise one of the main arguments for the existence of God, the ‘argument from design’.

          However, if one accepts the utility of the Theory of Evolution by Random Mutation and Natural Selection, then the fact of Nature red in tooth and claw becomes overwhelming evidence for the profoundly inescapable depth of the Problem of Evil.


          1. I would have said that the Problem of Evil is not a problem for evolution, since evolution has no moral sense, it is unguided.

            It is, however, a problem for any God, whether one accepts evolution or not. Certainly biological observations present many examples of apparent evil (in other words, things that would be truly sadistic if a consciousness had thought them up).

  18. As a NZ resident, I do have to point out that attitudes like that are NOT typical. If I was to stand up in a public place and declare loudly “I am an atheist” the universal reaction would be ‘so what?’. Religion just does not permeate society to the extent that it (reputedly) does in the USA. (Nobody would dream of asking a political candidate whether they were a Christian.) Unless one counts rugby football as a religion.

    Not to say that this country’s perfect, we have government departments that are showing all the competence one expects in a banana republic, a police force that has periodic spasms of Keystone Cops Rambo-like fantasies, (well, they’d be Gestapo-like if they weren’t so incompetently executed), and rampant political correctness. Fortunately it rarely reaches the level of this spectacular piece of grandstanding idiocy.

  19. “The homeschooling community in the U.S. at least (I don’t know about other countries) has an intense fear of all things biology, and they train children to associate real bio with the devil and aggressively attack the secularization of their communities and defend their beliefs.”

    You seem to assume they exist everywhere. In some countries, such as Germany, homeschooling is illegal. Good thing, too.

    1. However, Phil, look on the bright side. Homeschooling almost guarantees future decades of Christian trolls prowling websites such as Jerry’s.

  20. I went to bed last night and slept well, believing that my world was safe from ducks. Then I wake this morning and read this before I’ve even finished my first cup of coffee. My whole day is ruined, ruined, I tell ya!!!

  21. Thanks Mary. I have a passion for insect biology, especially the eye. In fact many years ago I put notes together to write an entomological book for children. I gave up in the end because there were always so many exceptions to the rule and I didn’t know how to get around that problem.

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