720 sexes and no limbs: Mysterious ‘blob’ creature comes to Paris Zoo
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It is one of nature’s most bizarre creatures. It eats but has no stomach, it moves but has no limbs and can learn but has no brain. It is known as “the blob” and will soon go on display at a zoo in Paris. Its real name is physarum polycephalum and it is in fact a type of slime mold normally found in the damp of the forest undergrowth. But it holds some fascinating properties. For instance, it has 720 distinct genetic genders and if you cut it in half, it can heal itself in just two minutes. It also has an extraordinary capacity to learn and pass on its knowledge to other individuals of the species. “It's capable of learning. If we put it in a maze, it will learn and take the best route out of the maze to find its food,” said Bruno David, director of the Paris Museum of Natural History. But little about how the creature functions is known to scientists and there is even confusion about whether it is an animal, fungus, or something in between. The blob will be presented to the public for the first time when it goes on display at the Parc Zoologique de Paris from Saturday, October 19.