It was a lazy afternoon on 5 June 1995. Kees Moliker was settling into his chair, minding his own business when he heard a loud thud outside his window. An ornithologist by training, his office was situated within the Natuurmuseum Rotterdam in Nethlerlands. Cautiously he approached the window where the thud was heard and he witnessed a horrifying sight! An adult male mallard was lying dead on the ground. There was another mallard mounting the corpse and raping it. Moliker stared transfixed at the sight before him…for nearly 75 minutes. When he couldn’t stand it anymore, he left his office and approached the crime scene to stop the hideous crime from continuing.
What just happened? Sex with a corpse? How is that possible? Contrary to what many people believe about animal sexual behavior, there are species whose sexual behavior are promiscuous and opportunistic in nature. A wide range of animals appear to masturbate and use objects as tools to help them do so. In many species it seems that animals try to give and receive sexual stimulation where procreation is not the aim.
On that fateful day in June 1995, Kees Moliker witnessed animal homosexual necrophilia. Necrophilia in animals is essentially when a living animal engages in a sexual act with a dead animal. What happened on that day was when a drake mallad (Anas platyrhynchos) was in full flight, it hit the glass facade of the Natuurmuseum Rotterdam building and died 2 metres away from the facade. According to Moliker, he speculated that the 2 mallards were involved in some kind of aerial chase or pursuit flight and while the victim flew into the glass building, the drake that was pursuing managed to avoid collision and landed next to the dead mallard. This is a common motif in duck behavior which is also known as rape flight. It was unlikely that the other drake was just passing by and saw the dead mallard as it appeared beside the corpse in less than a minute after the mallard’s death.
After landing, the “rapist” forcibily picked into the back, the base of the bill and mostly into the back of the head of the dead mallard for about two minutes, then mounted the corpse and started to copulate, with great force,
almost continuously picking the side of the head. The necrophilic rapist only reluctantly left his victim when Moliker approached the dead mallard and “rescued” it from the “rapist” after 75 minutes. So it seemed that it could have gone on even longer if Moliker hadn’t intervened.
Upon inspection of the dead mallard, it was revealed that it was a male mallard. This was unusual as necrophilia was known in the mallards but only among heterosexuals. Essentially, this made the first observed case of homosexual necrophilia in mallads. This discovery netted Moliker an Ig nobel prize in biology awarded for improbable research; research that “first make people laugh, and then make them think.”
You can check out the video Homosexual Necrophilia
Now a few questions that deserve further research are these. Did the gay duck just broke up with his partner? And is he doing this to vent his frustration? Well, these are interesting things to contemplate on.
Moeliker.C.W., 2001. The first case of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard Anas platyrhynchos (Aves: Anatidae). DEINSEA, 8: 243-247.
“Necrophilia among ducks ruffles research feathers” by Donald.Macleod. Improbable Research, 8 March 2005. URL: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2005/mar/08/highereducation.research (accessed on 8 Apr 2010).
Minimovies-Ig Nobel Prizes Episode 1/6. (Homosexual necrophilia in the mallard duck), 2 October 2009. URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfWiqdlmsm4 (accessed on 8 Apr 2010).