An intrepid team from the the University of Queensland will shortly make its way to Malaysia's central highlands to answer a question which has baffled science for centuries: is bovine lesbianism in domesticated cattle a stress reaction caused by environmental pressures?
Yes indeed, hot on the heels of the British revelations that sheep like happy, smiley people and pine for absent friends comes the earth-shattering possibility that cows' propensity to indulge in a bit of girl-on-girl is caused by a combination of "stress, [and] a selective domestication process which favoured outwardly sexual cows and the number of animals on heat in a small enclosure", as team supremo Clive Phillips explained to news.com.au.
Which is why Queensland's finest are on their way to Malaysia - home of the world's only herd of wild cattle - to prove that a carefree life of leisure reduces the incidence of bovine sapphism. According to the good prof: "With domestic cattle the cows show mounting homosexual behaviour when they are on heat and the wild cattle don't show that. A lot of animals in stressful conditions display this behaviour. It is a bit of a stress release."
Phillips also reports that other captive animals - including koalas and rabbits - "showed a similar increase in homosexual behaviour from that encountered in the wild".
We cannot help but feel that there is a nature/nurture punch-up looming here among the world's experts in animal homosexuality. Phillips' assertions are at odds with Oregon Health & Science University School research which suggested that homosexuality in sheep was caused by smaller ovine sexually dimorphic nuclei in the hypothalamus. As team leader professor Charles Roselli put it: "This particular study, along with others, strongly suggests that sexual preference is biologically determined in animals, and possibly in humans."
We at El Reg reckon it's about time these boys got their act together and provided definitive evidence one way or the other as to whether homosexuality in cows and sheep is caused by biological predetermination or environment. We're sure that other pressing concerns such as a cure for AIDS and the fight against cancer can be put on the back burner while the matter is resolved. ®