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The Core Curriculum

“Gentleman Antbirds Courting,” by Mary Tremonte, 2009 CE.

Despite being a famously keen observer, Darwin was among the generations of naturalists who never recorded an instance of same-sex mating in the animal kingdom, although such activity is now recognized as ubiquitous. This illustration of a courtship ritual between two male antbirds is part of a series of prints based on Bruce Bagemihl’s book, Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity, which catalogs same-sex mating in the animal world.  Both the vibrant background and strong lines of Tremonte’s illustration and Bagamihl’s word “exuberance” imbue (non-human) same-sex mating with an aura of power, energy, and creativity.  What aspects of human life are ‘natural’ according to Darwin? How do Tremonte and Bugemihl’s work challenge ideas about what it means to be ‘natural’ or ‘unnatural?’ What is the value in considering human behaviors ‘natural’ or ‘unnatural’ at all?  

Tremonte's prints are available at:


Via, used with permission of the artist.

Artistic Response
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Licensed for Public Use