“We’re so similar,” whispers a young David Attenborough, awestruck, as he reclines in the thick green underbrush amidst a veritable harem of Rwandan mountain gorillas. “Their sight; their hearing; their sense of smell is so similar to ours that we see the world in the same way as they do.” That was more than twenty-five years ago and, as per every other time he said literally anything, Dave was right. After chimpanzees, gorillas are more genetically similar to us than any other creature, sharing almost 99% of our DNA. “They live in the same sort of social groups,” he continues. “Sometimes, they even allow others to join in.”
But there’s either a side to the story Dave was keeping to himself, or he was simply ‘allowed to join in’ twenty-five years too early—because a recent study on the very same gorillas has caught them doing something very social, very saucy, and very much like us indeed. Scissoring.
For anyone still living under a parental lock, ‘scissoring’—otherwise referred to as ‘tribbing’ or ‘gash mashing’—is the term typically used to describe an act of mutual masturbation in which two females (usually human) grind their vulvae together in order to sexually stimulate themselves and each other.
In a study published earlier this month, Dr Cyril Grueter of the University of Western Australia observed female gorillas in Rwanda’s Volcano National Park engaging in what he very safely refers to as “genital rubbing.” The great apes reportedly thrust their pelvises together, ‘grinding the axe’ so to speak, whilst “uttering copulatory vocalisations” the same way any human scissor sister might.
Grueter furthermore observed a “pornographic effect” whereby, in some instances, a female gorilla would initiate the homosexual act shortly after watching a male gorilla performing coitus with another female. Like a page out of a King Kong erotica novel (leave title ideas in the comments) the lady gorilla apparently gets so riled up from perving on a bit of bareback silverback action that she has to bump doughnuts with another lady just to blow off some steam. Dr Grueter’s conclusion is straightforward: “My impression is that these females derive pleasure from sexual interaction with other females.”
It’s a story that, by adding a healthy squirt of Fifty Shades of Grey to Charles Darwin’s theory On the Origin of the Species, probably deserves attention on the strength of its vigorous sexual thrusts alone. But more than being a scandalous exposé of what our hairy cousins are really getting up to in those steamy jungles, this scientific observation—much like Darwin’s famous theory when it was first published—also goes some way toward debunking an all too commonly held belief. Namely: that humans (and for some reason dolphins) are the only animals that fuck for fun.
One need look no further than the annals of YouTube, really, to see a strong case against this notion. The antihero in the famous video ‘Chimp Rapes a Frog’ isn’t buggering the brains out of his amphibious friend because he wants to procreate—he’s power-wanking. Bonobos, a close cousin of the chimpanzee and maybe the horniest creatures getting around, are commonly observed in the wild engaging in polygamous sexual relationships, orgies, foreplay, oral sex, homosexual sex, and what some primatologists poetically refer to as “penis fencing”.
And then there’s the greater short-nosed fruit bat: a cutely named species of Asian bat that simply adores oral sex. In 2009, a team of entomologists from the Guangdong Entomological Institute in China studied a sample group of these naughty little mammals over the course of a month.
The male bat, like a winged Dan Bilzerian, will accommodate a harem of females in pseudo mansions that he’s built himself from leaves and saliva. The entomologists observed that as the suitor went about his business—typically in the doggy-style position whilst forcefully holding the female’s wings in place with his creepy thumbs—the female would frequently lower her head and lick the base or the shaft of his penis, apparently encouraging sexual stimulation and intensifying the erection. It has since been deduced that the greater short-nosed fruit bat is perhaps the only animal in the world, other than us filthy humans, that frequently participates in oral sex.
But that, of course, is only as good as saying that they’re the only other animals we’ve seen frequently participating in oral sex. Humans have a knack for omniscient arrogance—and if the gorillas in the mist have proven anything, it’s that the sex lives of our fellow beasts, birds and bees are full of kinky surprises.
“We’re so similar.”
Words by Gavin Butler.
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