Mercury ‘Turns’ Wetland Birds Homosexual

American White Ibis. Photo: Terry Foote (CC)

American White Ibis. Photo: Terry Foote (CC)

Victoria Gill reports for the  BBC:

Mercury affects the behaviour of white ibises by “turning them homosexual”, with higher doses resulting in males being more likely to pair with males.

Scientists in Florida and Sri Lanka studied the effect of mercury in the birds’ diet. Their aim was to find out why it reduced the ibises’ breeding.

Mercury pollution can come from burning coal and waste, and run-off from mines.

The report, in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, shows that wetland birds are particularly badly affected by it.

Although the researchers already knew that eating mercury-contaminated food could affect an animal’s development, they were surprised by the “strange” results of this experiment.

“We knew mercury could depress their testosterone (male sex hormone) levels,” explained Dr Peter Frederick from the University of Florida, who led the study. “But we didn’t expect this.”

Read more here.

17 Comments on "Mercury ‘Turns’ Wetland Birds Homosexual"

  1. So you see, it’s not a choice, it’s the result of deadly chemical contamination? I always wonder if these things are supposed to help or hurt the gay crowd.

  2. So you see, it’s not a choice, it’s the result of deadly chemical contamination? I always wonder if these things are supposed to help or hurt the gay crowd.

    • Reads to me like the intent was to find out the effects of pollution, regardless of the facts’ effects on sexual or religious political agendas.

      • Regardless of whether the article is pushing a political agenda, people who read this article will end up utilizing it for their relevant agendas as it does have direct relevance to the issues mentioned here. For these birds, Mercury poisoning causes them to be homosexual, perhaps (picking a random common chemical) fluoride or something in our water increased the number of homosexuals in humans. As a result, if such a finding were connected, people would protest for less of said chemical, but the other side might say that is being offensive against gays, etc etc.

        Again, it’s more about the implications of the article and what it could lead to than the article itself.

  3. Synapse stole my line ;P. But really the chemical contamination has little to do with it, since gays have been documented all throughout history and in many animal communities, regardless of mercury or not. Of course the right wing will love to parade this as if it’s reality, but it isn’t.

  4. Synapse stole my line ;P. But really the chemical contamination has little to do with it, since gays have been documented all throughout history and in many animal communities, regardless of mercury or not. Of course the right wing will love to parade this as if it’s reality, but it isn’t.

    • You can falsify any causal relationship? Please provide a link. That A can exist without C does not mean that C may be one of many causes of B, which does cause A.

      The right wing wants to parade the fact that homosexuality is not a choice? That’s news to me.

  5. Reads to me like the intent was to find out the effects of pollution, regardless of the facts’ effects on sexual or religious political agendas.

  6. You can falsify any causal relationship? Please provide a link. That A can exist without C does not mean that C may be one of many causes of B, which does cause A.

    The right wing wants to parade the fact that homosexuality is not a choice? That’s news to me.

  7. Cerebralcaustic | Dec 1, 2010 at 6:10 pm |

    Pft.

    You mean scientists are simply supposed to analyze data in as objective a manner as possible, and not push a political agenda?

    You’re no fun…

  8. We need more mercury in our food and water!!! ASAP

  9. We need more mercury in our food and water!!! ASAP

  10. Regardless of whether the article is pushing a political agenda, people who read this article will end up utilizing it for their relevant agendas as it does have direct relevance to the issues mentioned here. For these birds, Mercury poisoning causes them to be homosexual, perhaps (picking a random common chemical) fluoride or something in our water increased the number of homosexuals in humans. As a result, if such a finding were connected, people would protest for less of said chemical, but the other side might say that is being offensive against gays, etc etc.

    Again, it’s more about the implications of the article and what it could lead to than the article itself.

  11. Would mercury in vaccinations have a similar effect?

  12. Would mercury in vaccinations have a similar effect?

  13. Shucks…I knew breaking that thermometer when I was in grade school was a mistake. Little dash o mercury, and there I was…mad as a hatter and starved for cock a moment later. I can’t actually remember much of the experience…but I’m sure it was just like that.

  14. Shucks…I knew breaking that thermometer when I was in grade school was a mistake. Little dash o mercury, and there I was…mad as a hatter and starved for cock a moment later. I can’t actually remember much of the experience…but I’m sure it was just like that.

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