Unless you spend all your online time on weird porn sites, there is a considerable probability that you stumbled on a link to professor Kees Moeliker’s TED talk about his study of… homosexual necrophilia among ducks. If you did not, you can check it out right below: I promise you won’t regret it.
Moeliker is the curator of the Rotterdam Natural History Museum, and to make a long story short on June 5, 1995 he noticed two ducks copulating just outside of his office. That wouldn’t have been very strange, if it wasn’t that both were males – and the passive one was so since it had died moments before. Following his scientific instincts, the man carefully took notes about that, collected the dead specimen and proceeded to write a paper that he only found the courage to publish six years later.
Leaving aside why the Netherlands is home to all these deviant research, the study precipitated a series of rather peculiar events. First of all, Moeliker won the Ig-nobel prize, as his work perfectly fit the definition of ‘improbable research that first makes you laugh, than makes you think’ by which the prizes are awarded. Immediately later, however, he began receiving from all over the world dozens of reports about other perverse animal behaviors: fetishisms, sadomasochism, cuckolding, coprophilia and much more.
While baffled by his own notoriety, the curator eventually did the only possible thing: he indicted an official Dead Duck Day, which is celebrated every year at his museum on the anniversary of the fateful observation with a gathering of fans… who then move to a nearby Chinese restaurant to enjoy a six-courses duck dinner.
This is where the news usually end, but we should not forget the ‘think’ part of the Ig-nobel motivation. What does a necrogay duck really mean to us?
The message, corroborated by countless less bizarre research, is that what men use to call ‘perversion’ is absolutely natural. Sex takes as many forms as the imagination allows, and there just isn’t such a thing as ‘normal sexuality’, much less anything like ‘proper sex’. Even those candid worshippers of “the innocent beauty of nature” or “god’s pure design” have to bow their righteous heads before the stark evidence of unregulated pleasure as the natural thing.
Now, this obviously doesn’t mean that humans should behave like animals and let their instincts loose: that would be the very definition of sociopathy. As intelligent and loving beings, it is clear that anything we do must be governed by ethic principles – the simplest and most efficient of whom is the oft-repeated «safe, sane and consensual», even outside of sex. But ethics is not the same of moral and moralisms: if one chooses to behave in any way, it should be because it is the right thing to do and not some arbitrary principle like ‘because someone – usually imaginary – said so’. Maybe understanding this is the best way to celebrate Dead Duck Day… and any other day, for that matters.