Paris Zoo has unveiled an unusual organism which can creep along at a speed of up to 4 centimetres per hour, can solve problems despite not having a brain and can even heal itself if it’s cut in two.
The bright yellow creature has been called the ‘blob’ and will go on display at the Paris Zoological Park, as part of a first-of-its-kind exhibition designed to showcase its rare abilities, according to reports in CNN.
It’s officially known as physarum polycephalum or ‘the many headed slime’ and is neither a plant, an animal or a fungus.
The blob doesn’t have two sexes like male and female, it has 720. It can even be split into different organisms and then fuse back together, according to information released by the Zoological Park.
It’s believed the unicellular creature is around a billion years old, but first came to the public’s attention in May 1973 when a woman from Texas found a rapidly expanding yellow blob growing in her back garden. However, the blob died as quickly as it appeared and was seemingly never mentioned again until a research published in 2016 caused a stir in the science world.
The study, which was published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society and co-authored by Audrey Dussutour, a biologist at France’s National Center for Scientific Research, showed that physarum polycephalum could learn to ignore noxious substances, and remember that behaviour up to a year later.
Although nicknamed ‘the blob’, it’s far more than just that, as scientists believe it’s capable of solving problems, such as finding the shortest way to exit a labyrinth and anticipating changes in its environment, according to researchers working at the Zoological Park.
Scientists researched the slime mould after growing the organism in petri dishes and feeding it oatmeal, its favourite food. Once it had reached a particular size, they grafted it onto tree bark, which the mould also feeds on, and was placed on a terrarium, where visitors can now go and see it in real life.
The blob can usually be found on forest floors in Europe, with scientist Marlene Itan explaining:
Acacia trees, oak bark and chestnut bark are its favorite places.
It thrives in temperatures oscillating between 19 and 25 degrees Celsius (66 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit) and when humidity levels reach 80 per cent to 100 per cent.
The blob’s name derives from 1958 cult horror film of the same name, in which an alien life form takes over an entire town in Pennsylvania.
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Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist who started her career by producing The Royal Rosemurgey newspaper in 2004, which kept her family up to date with the goings on of her sleepy north east village. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining Tyla (formerly Pretty 52) in 2017, and progressing onto UNILAD in 2019.