It was buried from public view over 100 years for being too "graphic." Author Dr. George Murray Levick described it as "hooligan" sexual behavior conducted by Adélie penguins, which was observed during Captain Scott's 1910 polar expedition. He chose not to reveal it due to the morality of his day. However, what he witnessed was the sexual activity that include promiscuity that resulted in rape and prostitution, carried out by males and females.
Hidden from view . . .
Levick was a surgeon and medical officer on Scott's historical 1910-1913 trek to the South Pole called the Terra Nova expedition. In 1915, he detailed his account of the penguins' seemingly deviant sexual behavior, in a four-page pamphlet titled, "Sexual Habits of Adélie Penguins."
Shocked by what he witnessed he kept his notes in two separate notebooks. This allowed him to release a report to the public that did not include the sexual activity he observed. The "sex" notebook was even written in Greek to further remove it from readers' prying eyes.
"As it was boldly headed 'Not for Publication,' it immediately caught my eye," said Douglas Russell, who discovered and exposed the pamphlet to the public in 2012.
"As the curator of birds eggs and nests at the Natural History Museum and having had a long-standing interest in polar research, I knew of George Murray Levick and that this was, as the header suggested fascinating but totally unpublished work," noted Russell.
"Some of the things he noticed profoundly shocked him," Russell said. For instance, Levick noted the penguins' autoerotic tendencies, and the seemingly aberrant behavior of young unpaired males and females, including necrophilia, sexual coercion, sexual abuse of chicks, non-procreative animal sex and homosexual behaviors."
"Levick's notes were decades ahead of their time and possibly the first-ever attempt to reveal the more challenging aspects of bird behavioral strategies to the academic world," Russell said in a statement. But, in so doing, he also revealed a narrow worldview on sexuality in the early 1900s.
It turns out same-sex romps were also rampant among the Adélie penguins, and another form of sexuality Levick dismissed in his public document.
However, homophobia doesn't appear to exist in animals. Homosexual behavior in animals has been researched over the course of the 20th Century. Plenty of animals are 'out of the closet' so to speak, from dolphins and killer whale to bonobos and greylag geese. It is estimated that the number of species that engage at same-sex coupling is as many as 1500. I'm sure if Levick was alive today, he would be shocked at the acceptance of human homosexuality that is scientifically understood and accepted in 2020.
Interesting to note, that as informative as Levick's observations were, his own moral bias played heavily in what he thought could be shared with the public. Only 100 copies of his pamphlet were originally printed, and only two are known to exist today. Fortunately, Douglas Russell took the time to uncover and translate this document for the world to learn more about the sexuality of the Adélie penguins.
Primary Source: Live Science