The ‘blob’: zoo showcases slime mold with 720 sexes that can heal itself in minutes

The unusual organism has no mouth but can detect and digest food, and no brain yet can learn.

The ‘blob’, a unicellular organism that is neither plant, mushroom, nor animal, will go on show at the Paris zoological gardens. Photograph: Stéphane de Sakutin/AFP via Getty Images. 

A Paris zoo has showcased a slime mold, dubbed the “blob”, a yellowish, unicellular, small living being which looks like a fungus but acts like an animal.

This newest exhibit of the Paris Zoological Park, which goes on display to the public on Saturday and is widely used in scientific experiments, has no mouth, no stomach, no eyes, yet it can detect food and digest it.

The slime mold, Physarum polycephalum, also has almost 720 sexes, can move without legs and heals itself in two minutes if cut in half.

The ‘blob’ is neither animal nor plant. Photograph: Stéphane de Sakutin/AFP via Getty Images

“The blob is a living being which belongs to one of nature’s mysteries,” said Bruno David, director of the Paris Museum of Natural History, of which the Zoological Park is part.

“It surprises us because it has no brain but is able to learn … and if you merge two blobs, the one that has learned will transmit its knowledge to the other,” David added.


Zoo de Paris @zoodeparis

« Le est difficile à placer dans l’arbre du vivant. (…) Il nous apprend bien des choses sur la richesse de la vie sur Terre », explique @BrunoDavidMNHN.
Rendez-vous dès samedi au @zoodeparis pour entrer dans la blob-zone ! 🎉@CNRS

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The blob was named after a 1958 science-fiction horror B-movie, starring a young Steve McQueen, in which an alien life form – the Blob – consumes everything in its path in a small Pennsylvania town.

Reuters contributed to this report

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