Simple rules for construction of a geometric nest structure by pufferfish

Sci Rep. 2018 Aug 17;8(1):12366. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-30857-0.


A small (~10 cm) male pufferfish (Torquigener albomaculosus) builds a large (~2 m) sandy nest structure, resembling a mysterious crop circle, to attract females. The circle consists of radially arranged deep ditches in the outer ring region, and maze-like shallow ditches in the central region. The configuration is geometrical. Here, we examined the process of the outer ring construction, and extracted the 'rules' followed by the pufferfish. During construction, the pufferfish repeatedly excavates ditches from the outside in. Generally, excavation starts at lower positions, and occurs in straight lines. The entry position, the length, and the direction of each ditch were recorded. A simulation program based on these data successfully reproduced the circle pattern, suggesting that the complex circle structure can be created by the repetition of simple actions by the pufferfish.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Male
  • Reproduction / physiology
  • Sexual Behavior / physiology
  • Tetraodontiformes / physiology*