Monday, 11 November, 2019

'Blob' makes first appearance at Paris zoo

CC BY 3.0 Lawrence Durell Wade M.D./Wikimedia Commons CC BY 3.0 Lawrence Durell Wade M.D./Wikimedia Commons
Deanna Wagner | 18 October, 2019, 18:59

Dr. Audrey Dussutour, a researcher with the CNRS (translated to: National Scientific Research Center) who has studied blobs and works with the zoo, tweeted a short poem about the algae-like organism, also known as a eukaryotic protist.

The blob is now enjoying its time inside a terrarium at the Paris zoo.

A brainless, yellow slime mold with a remarkable 720 sexes but no eyes or mouth is going on display at the Paris Zoological Park in France.

The "blob" is a yellow, unicellular, small living creature which looks like a fungus but acts like an animal.

"The blob is hard to place in the tree of life", Bruno David, the director of the Paris Museum of Natural History and Zoological Park, said in a statement. It doesn't have two sexes - male and female - it has 720.

Researchers say the organism, which has been loosely identified as some kind of slime mold, is capable of a learning. It's technically considered a slime mold, and it doesn't fit neatly into the plant, animal or bacteria categories. If it's cut in half, the blob quickly repairs itself.

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Meet the "blob," an unusual organism which will go on display Saturday at the Paris Zoological Park, as part of a first-of-its-kind exhibition meant to showcase its rare abilities.

The organism moves without legs, wings or fins at a speed of up to 1.6 inches per hour.

The unicellular mold is known officially as physarum polycephalum, or the "many-headed slime".

"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".

The blob takes its name from a 1958 cult horror-movie starring Steve McQueen, in which an alien life form takes over a small Pennsylvania town. "If we put an obstacle in front of it - the blob hates salt, for example - it won't get past it right away, even if there is food behind it". After reaching a specific size, the organism was moved onto tree bark and then placed in a terrarium, where it will reside for visitors to see.