“Mercury causes homosexuality in male ibises”

Timothy Kincaid

November 30th, 2010

Nature.com brings us this fascinating news:

American white ibises (Eudocimus albus) from south Florida that consumed methylmercury (MeHg), the most toxic and easily absorbed form of mercury found in the environment, were more likely to engage in same-sex pairings — a phenomenon unknown in wild populations of this species with no exposure to the pollutant.

Now if only we knew what causes homophobia in loons.

Lynn David

November 30th, 2010

Except homosexuality is known in the wild populations of the human species.

Still I wonder if I shouldn’t have played with mercury globules as a kid.


November 30th, 2010

Uncle Fester ate thermometers, as I recall, but he still had a thing for the ladies.

Jim Burroway

November 30th, 2010

Oh sure. Blame it on the mercury.

I mean, really. Just look at them. That’s a gay bird if I ever saw one.

Ben in Atlanta

November 30th, 2010

Aren’t the male birds in all species prettier or at least more colorful? I work in TV news. It seems that the male anchors don’t need mascara. I never used to pay all that much attention to eyelashes until I heard one of the female anchors mention it. (She was on camera but off air.)

Patrick Garies

December 1st, 2010

Interesting article. It’s worth pointing out this part though:

“Frederick is concerned that ‘people will read this and immediately jump to the conclusion that humans eating mercury are going to be gay. I want to be very explicit that this study has nothing to say about that,’ he says.”


December 1st, 2010

That’s very funny.

Richard Rush

December 1st, 2010

Thankfully, I did play with mercury when I was a kid (but I didn’t eat it, though). I collected it from broken thermometers, and kept it in a small jar. It’s scary to realize that if it hadn’t been for the mercury, I wouldn’t have had all these wonderful years with my partner. It’s true, God really does work in mysterious ways.

Chris Mitchell

December 1st, 2010

[This commenter impersonated another person, using their name and their return email. The real Chris Mitchell, Director of Communications at Reason Magazine, is a supporter of our community. Reason Magazine is founded on libertarian principles and, as such, opposes arbitrary discrimination based on sexual orientation.]

Timothy Kincaid

December 1st, 2010

Poor Chris, he’s having trouble comprehending. So I guess I’d better speak in smaller words.


See the pretty picture? Those are birds. They are called ibises.

We are not ibises, Chris. This article is about the pretty ibis birds, not about people.

There, now don’t you feel better? No? Okay, maybe it’s nap time.

Chris Mitchell

December 1st, 2010

[This commenter impersonated another person, using their name and their return email. The real Chris Mitchell, Director of Communications at Reason Magazine, is a supporter of our community. Reason Magazine is founded on libertarian principles and, as such, opposes arbitrary discrimination based on sexual orientation.]


December 1st, 2010

I want to know who belonged to that group of rampaging homosexual bullies in 1973?


December 1st, 2010

Gay birds? There’s a new one.


December 1st, 2010

well that explains me then. I drove Mercury’s many times over the last 30 years.

Richard Rush

December 3rd, 2010

Ed said, “well that explains me then. I drove Mercury’s many times over the last 30 years.”

You may be on to something, Ed. During my impressionable growing-up years, my father always drove a Mercury. And because he liked to drive the family to far away places, we thought of him as a distant father. So when you add up the effects of my distant father driving a Mercury, plus the fact that I played with mercury globs as a kid, the only surprise is that I’m not more of a flaming queen.


December 6th, 2010

Well, it makes sense.. NO matter what people want to believe.. Male – Female is the most logical pairing..Some thing has to have gone wrong..
Like it or not.. And I’m sure many wouldn’t even accept it if it was proven that it is ’caused’ and not natural in humans..

Timothy Kincaid

December 6th, 2010


There is no evidence at all that homosexuality is the result of something ‘gone wrong’.

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