Every now and then the Internet discovers something that deserves a universal and singular response of fear. And today I am sharing with you this thing – the amazing depths that a pufferfish will go to attract a mate.

In the video, which was produced by the BBC in 2014, a male Japanese pufferfish works non-stop around the clock for more than a week using only his fins to create an astonishing piece of sand and sand art. shells, of which the narrator says: “Nowhere else in nature does an animal build something as complex and perfect as this.

And why is he building this masterpiece? To attract the attention of the women who pass by, of course.

Smitten females will lay their eggs in the middle of the crop circle art they love, as a way to convey their feelings. Then the deal is sealed when the males fertilize her eggs outside.

Researchers aren’t sure exactly what draws women to one crop circle over another, but they do know that this method of flirting is not only beautiful but effective. Perhaps it also contains lessons that could apply to species above the surface as well. After all, there’s a reason why big romantic gestures have remained go-to tactics for wooing love interests in every decade from romantic comedies to modern TikTok “propositions.”

While there is probably no suitor as tireless as the male pufferfish, there is no shortage of other animal lovers who have cultivated their own unique and surprising mating rituals and habits.

For example, researchers have found that smaller male cuttlefish transform their appearance into females in order to fool larger male competitors. Because the cuttlefish mating ritual is aggressive with larger males fighting, the smaller males intelligently protect themselves by switching to female mode and gain an advantage over the real females. DNA fingerprints showed that “female imitators” were successful in impregnating women 60% of the time, which was a feat given that women are notoriously picky, rejecting any male lead about 70% of the time.

Not only do these men earn points for their creativity, but they also show the world that being small has its perks.

Meanwhile, back on earth, male peacock spiders are also getting creative in making their ladies turn pale, albeit with less success. With eight legs per piece, you’d think spiders would be inherently gifted dancers, but alas, scientists say that’s not the case.

A 2015 study found that upon seeing a female, these tiny male spiders engage in a series of dances in an attempt to send her real “good vibes” through the ground. If she shows any interest, then he reveals a colored flap of her abdominal area and begins to strut wildly.

These dance moves, however, are not exciting. In fact, of 64 courtship dances studied, only 16 were enjoyed by females. In response to a bad dance, some females refused the males, while others were more aggressive – either shaking their abdomen, or sometimes if they were really bored, eating them.

What did females actually care about? The appearance of the male, which was considered twice as important as the dance movements.

Source: Photo by Marina de Pexels / CCO

Speaking of attraction, when it comes to finding a mate, it’s easy to assume that the more attractive one will win. Well, that’s not always the case.

Given the choice of two male mates, a female frog, unsurprisingly, will choose the more attractive. But, when a third lower “decoy” frog is added to the mix, it will change its mind and choose the less attractive of the first two.

These are the results of a puzzling 2015 study, where researchers observed the mating behavior of 80 female túngara frogs. Researchers identified different types of male calls that would vary in attractiveness to women. When there were two types of calls present, female frogs clearly preferred the one with the longer, lower frequency. However, when a third lower call was introduced, the female ended up choosing the less attractive call from the original two. If this seems irrational to you, it’s because it is. Often in complex mating situations animals do not have time to make rational decisions, simply because they risk being attacked by predators or losing mating opportunities.

In the human world, too, dating sometimes makes the best of us feel irrational. And the decoy effect, which can be described as how our opinion of two original options changes when a third, lesser option becomes available, doesn’t help. The decoy effect, which often works subconsciously, prompts us to make decisions based more on immediate feelings than what is actually better or good for us.

It is also an effective marketing tactic. For example, if you’ve ever intended to buy a small soft drink (when your choices were just medium and small) but ended up going with the large option when you saw that it was available, you fell into the trap.

Who knew that love could be as deceptive, messy and complicated for animals as it is for us?


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