He has only one cell, but can learn, and has insane gametes. Understand what is this animal that intrigues science.
By Maria Clara Rossini
Oct 18, 2019, 6:54 pm – Posted on Oct 18, 2019, 6:47 pm
What has no mouth or stomach, but can eat; It has no limbs, but can get around; and has no brain but can learn? The answer to the charade is probably the most bizarre creature you'll ever meet today: the blob.
This organism – which, by the way, is not an animal – has only one cell that contains several nuclei containing DNA. It will be shown to the public on Paris Zoological Park for the first time from this weekend.
Its scientific name is Physarum polycephalumbut he became famous for the name inspired by the fictional movie The blob, which shows an alien bubble that consumes everything it sees ahead. In the movie, humans are not sure what that creature is – and so are real-life scientists.
Until 1990, the blob was classified as a fungus. Its scientific name literally means "multi-headed mold," but it is not exactly that. What intrigues scientists is that it has the structure of a fungus but behaves like an animal. "We don't know if he's an animal, a fungus, or anything in between," said the president of the Paris zoo in note.
Today the creature is considered a "slime mold" and is part of the protist kingdom, "which is where we put everything we do not completely understand," according to the researcher. Chris Reid, who is dedicated to studying these organisms at the University of Sydney.
The species has been around for over a billion years, but it wasn't until 1970 that a Texas lady found something in her backyard that looked more like phlegm. It was the blob. They usually have a yellow or greenish tinge.
For those without arms or legs, the blob can move well. It advances about an inch an hour and can double in size in one day. If cut in half, it is also able to regenerate in two minutes, making it almost impossible to kill it.
To reproduce, it has no less than 720 different gametes – a little more complicated than our simple sperm and eggs. Finding a partner is not that easy either. They can only mix their genetic material if the other individual has a compatible set of genes divided into groups called matA, matB and matC – ie matA (de mating type) only reproduces with matA, matB with matB, etc.
In nature, it usually goes after bacteria, fungal spores and microbes to feed on. Already in captivity, your favorite food is porridge. Yes – zoo scientists fed him oats to make the blobs grow as big as possible before they went on display.
However, the most interesting aspect of blobs is their learning ability. Even without brains, studies have shown that they can find the shortest path within a maze, if “remember”Of the places he's been through, and still pass that information on to other blobs when they merge.
These are all strategies for finding food and avoiding dangerous substances. The blob leaves a slime wherever it goes, to make it clear that it has already eaten what was there and that there is no need to return. He can also learn to ignore harmful environments and "remember" it. for up to a year.
Unlike the movie that inspired its name, it's completely harmless to humans – so you can rest easy if you find something like phlegm in your backyard.