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Same-sex Relationships

The Laysan albatross motto: We keep you guessing.

Kevin Schaefer/Stockbyte/Thinkstock

First off, let's get one thing straight. (Ahem.) Calling animals "gay" or "lesbian" is a little silly; usually when we talk about animals being "gay" or "straight," we're talking about them engaging in homosexual acts, which -- in animals -- is interesting from an evolutionary perspective. But even more surprising might be the monogamous same-sex relationships animals engage in that may or may not include sexual activity.

For years, scientists studied albatrosses for their seeming dedication to their sexual partner. But less than a decade ago, researchers were astonished to discover that nearly a third of the birds in one colony were actually female pairs. The male and females look alike, and scientists had only identified that the birds stayed together forever, protecting a nest -- and never questioned their sexes. Both male-female and female-female pairs exhibited the same kind of parenting duties and even affection. And keep in mind that some of these pairs had been together for more than 15 years [source: Mooallem].

Now, let's turn from romantic pursuits and concentrate on how animals teach each other useful information.

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