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The blob is real: Paris zoo showcases self-healing organism with 720 sexes
by Brooks Hays
Washington (UPI) Oct 17, 2019

The star attraction at a zoo in Paris defies expectation. It looks like a fungus, but it acts like an animal. Technically, the organism known as the "blob," is neither. It also doesn't belong in the plant or bacteria kingdoms.

The strange organism is a slime mold, a type of protist, but the creature defies both classification and expectations. Though the blob is without a brain, it can solve problems. It has no eyes or mouth, but the blob can find and digest food. If it's cut in half, the blob quickly repairs itself.

This particular slime mold, a bright yellow species named Physarum polycephalum, was first discovered in Texas in 1973, according to CNN.

Several decades later, scientists published research showing the blob can learn to avoid toxic substances and recall their learned behavior as long as 12 months later. And when they fuse with other molds, the knowledge of their chemical adversaries gets shared.

Scientists at the Paris Zoological Park, where the blob is currently on display, suggest the organism can make it's way through mazes and solve basic problems.

"The blob is a living being which belongs to one of nature's mysteries," Bruno David, director of the Paris Museum of Natural History, told the BBC. "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 creature has approximately 720 sexes and can move -- without arms or legs -- at a speed of 1.6 inches per hour.

Slime molds are usually found naturally on dark, damp forest floors. They don't like light or drought. When the environment turns unforgiving, they can hibernate for long periods of time, reanimating themselves once conditions improve.

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

"Acacia trees, oak bark and chestnut bark are its favorite places," the zoo's Marlene Itan told CNN.

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Washington (UPI) Oct 4, 2019
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