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If Mercury Poisoning Makes White Ibises Gay, Will Zinc Poisoning Turn Flamingos Straight?

Mercury poisoning isn’t just a concern for the havoc it reeks on internal organs. For white ibises, native to the U.S. and Australia, exposure to high levels of mercury could wipe them out — since it turns the male birds gay, a three-year study reveals. I knew Freddie Mercury was up to no good.

The Daily Mail reports on the most startling discovery this side of too many sisters turning rats gay:

Males dosed up with methylmercury, the organic and most toxic form of mercury, showed reduced rates of traditional courtship behaviour. Even relatively low levels of mercury in the diet of male white ibises cause the birds to mate with each other rather than with females. As a result many of the females can’t breed, and fewer chicks are produced.

Dr Peter Frederick, of the University of Florida, warned that gay coupling could result in a 50 per cent reduction in chicks. He said: ‘These effects on reproductive behaviour and sexual preference represent a novel mechanism by which contaminants may influence wild bird populations.’ Mercury is a naturally occurring metal released into the environment from rocks and soils, and in volcanic eruptions. But human activities are continually adding more. Dr Frederick’s team, whose findings are published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, said methylmercury is known to affect sex hormones of many animals but it is unclear whether bird populations may be affected. They said: ‘Male – male pairing contributed a large proportion of the reproductive deficits documented in this study, yet to our knowledge, this mechanism has not been reported as an effect of mercury exposure or of other contaminants.

Homosexual behaviour among birds and other animals has been documented before but usually when there is a shortage of female birds in the local population. But in this study, the researchers found that the homosexual pairing began when there were still plenty of potential female birds available.

Nobody tell Tony Perkins. I MEAN IT!! Because he’s already gloating over the fragility of gay penguin relationships.

By:           JD
On:           Dec 1, 2010
Tagged: , , , ,

  • 3 Comments
    • Pygar
      Pygar

      I immediately thought of the time evil Adam Carrington poisoned his brother, Steven (the gay Carrington), by painting his office with a mercury-based paint meant for boat hulls. Oh, a Dynasty reference, BTW, if you didn’t get it.

      Dec 1, 2010 at 2:56 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • toddinsf
      toddinsf

      The White Ibis, Eudocimus albus, is found from the southern U.S. to northern South America – not in Australia. Of the few species of ibis in Australia, the one you’re probably confusing is the Australian White Ibis, Threskiornis molucca, found from Australia through New Guinea into Indonesia – a close relative of the Sacred Ibis found in Africa & revered by the ancient Egyptians. Different species, & the latter was not included in this research.

      Dec 1, 2010 at 9:15 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Joe Clark
      Joe Clark

      “Reeks”? Are you saying mercury (or ibises) stink?

      Dec 2, 2010 at 11:44 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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