"Blob" goes on display at Paris Zoo

Posted at 10:37 AM, Oct 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-17 12:37:35-04

The Paris Zoo unveiled its new exhibit on Wednesday showcasing a yellow lichen-like unicellular being which looks like a fungus but acts like an animal.

The "blob" or Physarum polycephalum is part of the Myxomycetes family, a class of slime mold. It is neither an animal nor a fungus but has characteristics of both.

Many of these biological oddities exist in the wild, with different characteristics in different continents, but this is the first in the world to go on display in captivity.

Though it has no mouth, no stomach and no eyes, the "blob" can still detect and digest its food.

"The "blob" is a living being that is part of some of nature's mysteries. We don't really know what it is," the director of the Paris Museum of Natural history Bruno David said, adding that it lives and grows in damp forest undergrowth away from the light.

Studies on the yellow slime-mold show it can heal itself in two minutes if cut in half and can move up to 4 centimetres an hour without any limbs.

The "blob" doesn't even have a brain, yet it is capable of finding solutions to problems and transmitting the knowledge it learns.

"The 'blob' will learn how to get past the barrier and get to its food, and it will start to do this more quickly and more strongly. If we fuse two blobs together, the one which learned will transmit its knowledge to the other," David said.

It will go on display to the public at the Paris Zoo on Saturday, Oct. 19.