Research Reveals Ostrich Gets Horny When Humans Are Around

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Ostriches do not have a reputation for being the smartest animals, owing to their brains being about the size of a walnut. While they aren’t as stupid as their reputation suggests, they have been observed in captivity doing something that contributes to the stereotype: attempting to mate with humans.

In the early 1990s, ostrich farmers noticed that their birds engaged in more seduction behavior when humans were present. When their farmers were nearby, the male animals would flap their wings, squat, and wave their necks around in a mating dance, as if they were much hornier.

Scientists wondered what was going on and conducted structured observations of animals at two UK farms – from nearby and from a distance – to see how their mating behavior differed. Their findings were published in the journal British Poultry Science and earned them an Ig Nobel Prize.

“During near observations, there was a significantly greater frequency of soliciting by females compared with distant observations during both years of observations,” the team wrote in their study

“The birds directed these courtship behaviors towards the human observer adjacent to the perimeter, though some females did not appear to respond,” the researchers wrote.

On one farm, 68 percent of the birds displayed to humans.

“There was a high incidence of ostrich courtship display to humans,” the authors concluded, “thereby confirming casual observations that adult breeding ostriches displayed to humans.” “The observation that birds on two farms exhibit courtship behavior, combined with casual observations at other farms in the United Kingdom and southern Africa, suggests that human-induced courtship is a widespread phenomenon.”

The team suspected that mating displays aimed at humans interfered with animal mating. Males may make fewer displays to females of their own species, resulting in females refusing to squat for the males’ mating attempts.

Though the vast majority of ostriches were missing out on mating opportunities as a result of their apparent attraction to human farmers, one bird took advantage of the situation.

The team wrote, “One male ostrich was observed apparently taking advantage of female courtship behavior directed towards humans by mounting the female each time she dropped to the ground in response to a human standing nearby. This couple’s behavior was unusual.”

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Jenish Shrestha
Truth is important to us at any cost.

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