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.
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