A new and very mysterious organism has found a new home in a large tank at the Paris Zoological Park. Nicknamed the “blob” after a 1958 horror movie, its official scientific name is Physarum polycephalum or “many-headed slime”. The yellow-colored slime is a unicellular living being that looks similar to a fungus but reacts like an animal.
This organism has been on Earth for approximately 500 million years longer than humans and has many mysterious features like the fact that it has almost 720 genders. Another amazing feature is that after being cut in half, it can heal itself in just two minutes. Additionally, it has no eyes, no mouth, and no stomach; however, it knows how to detect food and can digest it. It can also procreate on its own.
Although it appears to stay in one spot, it does move approximately one centimeter (or 0.4 inches) every hour looking for prey (mushroom spores, bacteria, and more microbes). The organism is normally found on leaves that are decaying, as well as tree trunks in the woods where the air is cool and moist.
Bruno David, who is the director of the French National Museum of Natural History in Paris, stated, “The blob is a living being which belongs to one of nature’s mysteries,” adding, “It surprises us because it has no brain but is able to learn and if you merge two blobs, the one that has learned will transmit its knowledge to the other.”
Researchers conducted an experiment in 2016 that found the mold could in fact learn things. They taught the mold to move across a bridge that had been lined with salt. Prior to this experiment, the mold wouldn’t go near salt. What’s even more incredible is that when they put the mold together with another mold that was not taught to cross the bridge, the first organism passed on what it learned to the other. Scientists believe that a type of “vein” that is created when the two organisms combine together is what allows the first mold to pass on its knowledge to the other one.
Another incredible fact about the blob is that it’s extremely hard to kill. When it feels as if it’s in danger, it dries itself out in a type of hibernation and after receiving just a few drops of water, it immediately comes back to life. And it can grow to incredible sizes, as one lab grew a blob that was 33 feet in width.
“The blob is really one of the most extraordinary things that live on Earth today,” expressed David, who went on to say, “It has been here for millions of years, and we still do not really know what it is. We don’t really know if it’s an animal, if it’s a fungus or if it’s something between the two.” (A picture of the “blob” can be seen here.)