‘Neither animal nor plant’: Smart, brainless ‘blob’ gets home at Paris zoo

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Physarum polycephalum. Image: Maxi Sciences

A brainless, bright-yellow organism that can solve mazes and heal itself is making its debut at a Paris zoo.

The blob is neither animal, nor plant. And although Physarum polycephalum — Latin for “many-headed slime” — is classified as a type of slime mold, scientists now consider the creature unrelated to fungi.

This species has been around for as many as 1 billion years, but its mysterious nature has attracted new fame thanks to the unveiling on Saturday of an exhibit dedicated to the single-cell organism at the Paris zoo.

The slime mold, which lacks a nervous system, is capable of advanced decision-making, learning and long-term memory storage, according to Audrey Dussutour, who studies unicellular organisms with the French National Center for Scientific Research.

Related article:  'Talking To Robots': Book takes 'funny and broad' look at a fully automated future

Cut the blob into two, and it can regenerate itself within two minutes, according to the zoo.

Through fusion, two blobs with the same genetic makeup can merge into one organism, and share their respective knowledge.

Its enemies include light, drought, salt and caffeine. But, Dussutour said, “If you train a slime mold to ignore caffeine for example, it can transfer this knowledge to another clone.”

Read full, original post: ‘The Blob,’ A Smart Yet Brainless Organism Fit For Sci-Fi, Gets Its Own Exhibit

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