Daily Briefs
4 min

Birds do it, bees do it

The team at MinuteEarth tackles monogamy in the animal kingdom

Whenever the term “unnatural” is thrown around in regard to sex and sexuality, it’s usually (depressingly) hilarious. As if things like communicating with people on the other side of the world, SUVs and lattes are part of the natural world, but homosexuality is an unnatural abomination. A favourite phrase of mine, which is particularly handy in an argument about what is “unnatural” is “Homosexuality is found in almost every species; homophobia is only found in one.”

Similarly, monogamy is a widely accepted error paraded as something that’s natural. In humans, it well could be a fairly recent development, in the ballpark of about 10,000 to 20,000 years ago, with the advent of mass migration and agriculture. The evolution of monogamy is a cultural process that likely has nothing to do with genetic success, instead becoming the result of farming and property ownership. 

Monogamy, it turns out, has never really caught on in the animal kingdom. The adorable team at MinuteEarth, a YouTube channel dedicated to delivering “science and stories about our awesome planet,” dedicated their Valentine’s Day video this year to exploring some ways that animals are, rather naturally, big sluts.