October 17, 2019 - 14:28 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The Paris Zoological Park on Saturday, October 19 will begin a first-of-its-kind exhibit housing a super weird organism: a bright yellow slime mold it has dubbed "The Blob". The gelatinous, amoeba-like creature has 720 sexes, no brain and no eyes but is "intelligent" enough to seek out food just like an animal would and find its way through a maze, CNet reports.
The nightmare creature is, of course, named after the 1950s Steve McQueen classic, "The Blob".
"The blob is really one of the most extraordinary things on Earth today," said Bruno David, the director of the French National Museum of Natural History in Paris. "It's been here for millions of years, and we still don't really know what it is."
The mold is certainly bizarre, but this isn't some deadly creature cooked up by a crazed scientist at the Paris Zoo. In fact, this particular slime mold is a workhorse for scientific research and forms the basis of regular study into the fascinating beasts. The creature is known as Physarum polycephalum, "the many headed slime," and is one of over 900 slime molds discovered. It's not dangerous to humans, living and feeding on leaves and logs.
It's also a big fan of oatmeal and scientists have been using the breakfast food to test the creature's intelligence for years. In 2010, researchers even used oatmeal to represent the city of Tokyo and showed how the creature organized itself like the city's railway system. It's intelligence and ability to form networks is bonkers -- and this all comes from a blob without a brain or eyes.
"If we put it in a maze, it will learn and take the best route out of the maze to find its food," David told Reuters. "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."
Scientists aren't sure exactly how it performs these tasks because it lacks a nervous system to tell its body how to act. Some suggest signalling might utilize electrical signals or that it can send waves throughout its branches to communicate. A recent paper demonstrated an as-yet-unknown signalling molecule is most likely responsible for the creature's complex behaviors.