According to George Levick, a surgeon and the medical officer on Captain Scott’s famous 1910-1913 expedition to the South Pole, called the Terra Nova expedition, his account of the penguins’ seemingly odd behaviors are detailed in a four-page pamphlet “Sexual Habits of Adélie Penguins” in 1915.
Hidden for nearly 100 years for being too “graphic,” a report of “hooligan” behaviors, including sexual coercion, by Adelie penguins observed during Captain Scott’s 1910 polar expedition has been uncovered and interpreted.
The naughty notes were rediscovered recently at the Natural History Museum in Tring, in England, and published in the recent issue of the journal Polar Record.
“As it was boldly headed ‘Not for Publication’ it immediately caught my eye,” Douglas Russell, who discovered the pamphlet, told LiveScience. “As the curator of birds eggs and nests at the Natural History Museum and having had a long-standing interest in polar research, I knew of George Murray Levick and that this was, as the header suggested, fascinating but totally unpublished work.”
“Some of the things he noticed profoundly shocked him,” Russell said. For instance, Levick noted the penguins’ autoerotic tendencies, and the seemingly aberrant behavior of young unpaired males and females, including necrophilia, sexual coercion, sexual and physical abuse of chicks, non-procreative sex and homosexual behaviors.