It was the splat heard around the world.
On the afternoon of June 5, 1995, an unlucky male mallard met his premature finish after flying into the newly inaugurated glass façade of Rotterdam’s Pure Historical past Museum.
Whereas the duck’s dying was unremarkable — billions of birds die flying into home windows and different reflective glass surfaces all over the world yearly — what occurred subsequent assured his spot within the historical past books: Seconds after his corpse hit the bottom, one other male duck appeared, mounted the deceased waterfowl and proceeded to have intercourse with it for a formidable 75 minutes.
The complete episode was noticed by biologist Kees Moeliker, who shortly realized he was witnessing a singular occasion: The primary documented case of gay necrophilia within the mallard.
“I’d by no means seen something like this earlier than,” stated Moeliker, who presently serves because the director of the museum. “Geese are notoriously aggressive whereas reproducing and rape is a part of their technique, however the truth that this occurred between a dwell and lifeless particular person was fully new.”
Moeliker finally revealed his findings in a paper that was awarded the 2003 Ig Nobel Biology Prize for analysis that “first make individuals chuckle after which assume.”
However the lifeless duck’s story doesn’t finish with Moeliker’s paper.
Again in 1995 the biologist had the expired chook stuffed and added to the museum’s non-public assortment, however — after guests started to indicate up demanding to see the duck — the mallard was placed on public exhibition alongside its extra eye-catching taxidermized tigers, polar bears and sharks.
The duck is now the headliner of the museum’s everlasting Useless Animal Tales exhibition, which additionally features a hedgehog that received fatally caught in a McDonald’s McFlurry cup and the stone marten that shut down the CERN particle accelerator in November 2016.
“There’s humor in these instances, however there’s additionally a lesson to be realized about how people work together with the atmosphere,” stated Moeliker. “If we didn’t construct glass buildings and if we didn’t have as a lot waste, many of those animals would most likely nonetheless be alive.”
Past the museum, the duck’s story has additionally served to encourage cultural works like composer Daniel Gillingwater’s 2014 oeuvre, The Gay Necrophiliac Duck Opera and, in fact, the annual Useless Duck Day celebrations, which are actually of their twenty eighth yr.
“At precisely 5:55 p.m. we are going to collect in entrance of the spot the place the duck’s physique fell and, after observing a second of silence to commemorate the duck’s tragic dying, we are going to share insights about outstanding animal conduct and lift consciousness concerning the international drawback of birds and home windows,” he stated.
Moeliker pressured that “though individuals like shiny buildings,” it was necessary to consider the animal world and go for architectural choices that can scale back the variety of chook collisions.
“A simple answer is to construct with bricks, not glass, however builders also can spend money on glass with an ultraviolet coating which is seen to birds and can make it clear that they will’t simply fly via,” he stated.
The biologist stated that though the primary Useless Duck Day had consisted of him having a beer with a colleague, on some events as much as 50 individuals have attended the festivities.
This yr’s commemoration of the fatality will probably be capped off because it all the time is, with a six-course duck meal at an area Cantonese restaurant. Regardless of the occasion’s morbid overtones, the feast is geared to go away attendees shaking their tail feathers with delight.