Paris zoo debuts ‘The Blob’ organism with no brain, 720 sexes

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Paris zoo debuts 'The Blob' organism with no brain, 720 sexes

Scientists say the vibrant, gelatinous creature has been here for millions of years, but they still don’t know exactly what it is.
PARIS, France — A first-of-its-kind exhibit debuts at the Paris Zoological Park on Saturday featuring a mysterious organism with no brain.

The bright yellow, gelatinous creature is called “The Blob,” according to CNET. Scientists at the zoo say the organism has no eyes or stomach and isn’t a plant, animal or a fungus. It also has 720 sexes.
And, yes, the creature is named after the Steve McQueen classic film, “The Blob.”

The creature can split into different organisms and fuse back together. It can crawl at a speed of about 1.6 inches per hour, according to CNN.

On its website, the Parc Zoologique de Paris said the unicellular being is part of a class of myxomycetes in the reign of Amoebozoa. Scientists believe these organisms have been around for millions of years.

Its scientific name is Physarum polycephalum, which means “the many-headed slime.” CNET said it’s one of more than 900 slime molds discovered, but it’s not dangerous to humans. It lives and feeds on leaves and tree logs.

“The Blob” first became a media sensation in 1973 when a Texas woman found a yellow organism growing in her backyard. The New York Times on May 31, 1973, said botanists determined the “so-called ‘blob’ was a common slime mold.”

Then, in 2016, a study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society stated that “The Blob” could learn to ignore harmful or unpleasant substances and remember the behavior a year later.

Scientists have also used oatmeal to test the creature’s intelligence and found that “The Blob” can form physical networks. In 2010, researchers got Physarum polycephalum to organize itself like Tokyo’s railway system.

Reuters spoke with Bruno David, director of the Paris Museum of Natural History, who said “The blob is a living being which belongs to one of nature’s mysteries.”

David also spoke of the organism’s ability to learn without a brain and that “if you merge two blobs, the one that has learned will transmit its knowledge to the other.”

The Paris Zoological Park said its new exhibit will have an interactive wall that teaches guests how the blob moves, learns and picks food. The exhibit will also let visitors watch zoo employees feed it oatmeal.

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