This Bizarre 'Blob' on Display in a Paris Zoo Has Its Own Memory, Can Heal Itself, and Thrives on Oatmeal — All Without a Brain
The wildly unique creature was first spotted in 1973 in a Texas garden—it spreads rapidly along surfaces with its neon yellow tendrils.
With just under two weeks to go until Halloween, horror fans living in and visiting Paris have something truly spooky to look forward to this year. Paris' Zoological Park is the new home to the "blob," a unique organism that scientists say can achieve great feats without actually having a recognizable form—in fact, the blob doesn't have a brain at all. It can, however, crawl along surfaces at a speed of up to two inches per hour and is known to heal itself in the event that someone attempts to cut it in half. Officials at the zoo will open an exhibit designed to showcase the blob's abilities to the public this weekend, according to this Reuters report.
Officially classified as a slime mold, the blob is known by scientists to be physarum polycephalum ("the many-headed slime" in a rough translation). The creature isn't an animal, plant, or a regular form of fungus; unlike nearly every other organism in the world, it can exist in 720 different sexes. It also has the ability to split into different organisms and fuse back together. While scientists report that the blob could have thrived on Earth almost one billion years ago, the organism didn't become popular until 1973, when a Texas woman discovered the neon-yellow blob slowly encapsulating her entire garden and backyard, per the New York Times.
While that organism eventually died, researchers have been hard at work studying the blob and its many abilities since. A new study in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society spearheaded by a biologist at France's National Center for Scientific Research suggests that the blob could repel noxious substances simply from memory—despite the fact that it doesn't actually have a brain. The blob has also been found to navigate mazes effectively and can anticipate changes in its immediate environment. According to the zoologists in Paris in charge of the new exhibit, scientists initially grew the organism in Petri dishes, where it thrives on oatmeal. Then, it was transferred onto tree bark (which is another source of its food) in a terrarium, where people can view it in its natural habitat.
As you may have guessed, this singular being earned its name from a fan-favorite horror movie, The Blob, which premiered in 1958. Just like the film's fictional alien substance, the real-life blob is nearly immortal, and it can only be killed by severe drought and harsh sunlight, per Reuters' report. In the wild, the blob is normally found on moist forest floors in wooded areas of Europe—but it can hibernate for several years if threatened. For more information about the blob, or to plan your trip to see it firsthand, head to the Zoological Park's website.