Who Invented Sex?

This simple question was thrown out in a joking manner by my husband. My silly answer was that amoebas probably thought about it and wished they had the equipment to do it. So I decided that would be a fun topic to cover in this blog. There’s a multi-part documentary called The History of Sex from 1999, but I want to look beyond humans. I doubt we primates invented the act, or are the only creatures who do it just for fun sometimes.

An awesome blog from Discovery Magazine states that yes, animals must have pleasure in sex or they would be using up a lot of energy and risking possible death in many cases just to hook up and insure the survival of the species.

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Do animals have orgasms? Have you seen a male rabbit fall over after inseminating a doe? And the same things that signal an orgasm in a human female are found in a number of primate females. It’s pretty widespread. Yes, I went there.

Well, even if pleasure is more the goal than reproduction, the latter is the trigger that brought about sexual reproduction. Oddly enough, asexual reproduction makes more sense, where 100% of the population can produce offspring. One might assume the pleasure aspect took a hand in the changeover. Do stop giggling.

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I suppose we might as well mention that some amphibians and reptiles are capable of both asexual and sexual reproduction. Playing for both teams, as it were. The fact that they only use asexual methods when there is no choice is very telling.

Moving on to mammals and specifically primates, we only have to go back 55 million years or so. We relatively new kids on the block kicked some serious marsupial ass, meaning that we chased them out of every place we ended up and left them some islands down under. Too bad we didn’t connect sexually with them, that would have really shaken things up.

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A recent trip to the zoo let me take a close look at a family of bonobos, the closest primate relative to humans. Unlike chimpanzees, bonobos are gentle, calm, and enjoy sex in a wide variety of positions with many different goals. Led by an alpha female, the troops are more focused on foraging and caring for each other than waging wars. They landed in the perfect spot, away from most other primates, allowing them to avoid territorial conflicts.

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I guess there’s no real answer to who invented sex. But looking at the path it has taken in evolution, now some new thoughts are circulating in my story-writing-brain for stories that take place on other worlds with other beings. I expect I won’t get to those stories any time soon, but it’s a good exercise for the brain.

Originally posted in September of 2015. Due to NaNoWriMo, November will be full of repeats. Thanks for understanding.

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