The recently discovered scientific journals of George Murray Levick, avid Edwardian biologist and medical officer on Captain Scott’s famous 1910 expedition to the South Pole, reveal that penguins may be a much more depraved group of birds than we previously imagined. In his private expedition journals, Levick notes with horror observations of necrophilia, non-procreative sex, masturbation, coercive sexual encounters, and the sexual abuse of chicks among the Adelie penguins of Antarctica’s Cape Adare. So chagrined, in fact, was the former navy doctor at the “astonishing depravity” he had to record, that many of the lewder sections he scribbled in ancient Greek.
The Natural History Museum in Tring has published the unexpurgated notes, which were recently discovered in museum archives by Douglas Russell, curator of eggs and nests (and stamped, incidentally, heavy bold lettering: “NOT FOR PUBLICATION”). // Patrick Barrett