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Inside the mind of the gay sheep

Boffins seek reason for ovine homosexuality

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Absolute proof that scientific research budgets are not always squandered on sniffing around the Martian surface or making particles go really fast comes with the latest findings of a team from the Oregon Health & Science University School.

Indeed, proponents of the theory that there may be structural differences between the brains of heterosexual and homosexual men will be delighted with the results of the latest research into gay sheep.

The team's probing of the workings of the minds of these furry Friends of Dorothy indicate that they have smaller ovine sexually dimorphic nuclei (oSDNs) than their straight counterparts.

These nerve cells are found in the hypothalamus, which is - among other things - responsible for sexual behaviour. Apparently, rams who prefer the company of ladies have larger oSDNs packed with more neurons.

The team tested 27 adult, 4-year-old sheep of various breeds. The group comprised eight males who preferred girls, nine with a penchant for boy-on-boy and 10 ewes whose sexual proclivities are not noted. Animal experts reckon that around 8 per cent of domestic rams demonstrate homosexual tendencies.

Team leader professor Charles Roselli said: "This particular study, along with others, strongly suggests that sexual preference is biologically determined in animals, and possibly in humans. The hope is that the study of these brain differences will provide clues to the processes involved in the development of heterosexual, as well as homosexual behaviour."

So there you have it. Mankind takes another significant step on the road towards ultimate scientific enlightenment. ®

Related link

The Volume of a Sexually Dimorphic Nucleus in the Ovine Medial Preoptic Area/Anterior Hypothalamus Varies with Sexual Partner Preference

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