Starting on October 19, visitors to the Paris Zoological Park will have an unexpected creature waiting for their gaze. An alien-looking yellow “blob” that can learn without a brain and digest food without a stomach is the zoo’s newest attraction.
Though the blob isn’t a new discovery, scientists can’t seem to agree on what exactly it is. Answers to that question range from a fungus to an animal. Regardless of how it is classified, the bizarre organism is baffling researchers and will certainly wow visitors.
As an appropriate touch, the organism’s nickname comes from Steve McQueen’s 1958 horror film “The Blob” which sees an alien lifeform devour a Pennsylvania town.
First reported by CNN, the so-called blob has likely been lurking around on Earth since ancient times. Of course, some believe that it may have otherworldly origins. Formally known as physarum polycephalum (many-headed slime), the organism was first documented in 1973 when a Texas woman found it growing in her backyard. The unicellular blob grows very quickly and has some extraordinary capabilities.
Oddly enough, that blob died and not much was mentioned about it until 2016 when new research regarding the organism came to light.
However, it is the blob’s physical characteristics that make it such a strange thing. For one, it can find and digest food despite the fact that it doesn’t have a mouth or a stomach. Speaking of “finding,” the yellow slime-mold can move along at an alarming 1.6 inches per hour (relatively speaking). Meanwhile, the organism has a total of 720 different sexes.
The blob certainly sounds like something straight out of David Walton’s fiction novel “The Genius Plague.” Fortunately, this one isn’t capable of mind control.
Who Needs a Brain?
Just when things seem weird enough, Paris Zoo visitors will learn even more about the blob. According to CNN, it is capable of problem-solving, like successfully navigating a maze, even though it doesn’t have a brain or appear to have a central nervous system—at least not in the traditional sense.
Adding to the blob’s alien-seeming traits is the fact that it can be completely severed in two and fuse itself back together in a matter of minutes. Even Wolverine would be jealous of that. Still, that’s not all. When one portion of the blob “learns” something and is then rejoins the other portion, it miraculously transfers its knowledge to the entire organism. Oh, and it can learn to simply ignore toxic substances. If only humans could do the same.
According to the Paris Museum of Natural History’s director, Bruno David, “We know for sure it [the blob] is not a plant but we don’t really if it’s an animal or a fungus.”
While visitors in Paris can enjoy this mystery of nature, scientists will continue to try and unravel its many secrets.