25 Oct Meet blob, the mysterious slime mould
A slime mould, dubbed the “blob” has been unveiled, and it’s continuing to surprise researchers.
A crowd favourite from this year’s SCINEMA line up was Smart Slime?. The short film called into question whether slime is intelligent. Filmmaker Juliette Martineau showcased just how strange and impressive slime moulds are.
Now, a Paris zoo has unveiled a similar organism.
Dubbed the “blob” – after the popular 1958 science fiction horror film The Blob – the yellowish, unicellular organism looks like a fungus but acts like an animal. It has no mouth, no stomach, no eyes. But it can detect and digest food.
The researchers say it has almost 720 sexes. And while it has no legs or wings, it can still move about. More incredibly, if by chance, the blob gets cut in half, it can repair itself within two minutes.
“We know for sure it is not a plant, but we don’t really know if it’s an animal or a fungus,” explains Bruno David from the Paris Museum of Natural History. “The blob is a living being which belongs to one of nature’s mysteries.”
And while the ability to move without limbs and the healing powers is pretty neat, the blob isn’t finished showing off quite yet.
“If we put it in a maze, it will learn and take the best route out of the maze to find its food. 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,” explains David.
However, the researchers observed that in the face of an obstacle, the slime mould would learn how to get past the barrier and to its food. The more times it does it, the quicker the mould acts.
“It surprises us because it has no brain, but is able to learn.”
In case you weren’t impressed already, the researchers found another surprise when they fused two of the blobs Wtogether.
Keeping in mind that these organisms don’t have a brain – the researchers found that the blob with the knowledge on how to get past a barrier transmitted its knowledge to the other blob, who know knows how to directly get past the barrier.
The blob is now on display at the Paris Zoological Park.
If you want to find out more about the mysterious world of slime mould, check out Smart Slime? now on Australia’s Science Channel.