Innovation

Scientists Are Baffled by This Living ‘Blob’

This mysterious substance can learn without having a brain — and has nearly 720 sexes.

A living “blob” currently on display at a Paris zoo is baffling scientists, who aren’t sure what it is or how it’s able to function.
 
“The ‘blob’ is a living being that is part of some of nature’s mysteries,” the Paris Museum of Natural History’s Bruno David explained. “We don’t really know what it is.”
 
The mushy, unicellular mold looks like a fungus, though scientists have yet to determine it is an animal, plant or mushroom. It has no brain, but can learn from its past experiences, similarly to animals. It can move without any limbs and repair itself after being cut in half —and reportedly has nearly 720 sexes. 
The peculiar organism is currently on display at the Paris Zoological Park. The exhibit is the first of its kind and will allow visitors to learn about it.
 
According to CBS, researchers at the Zoological Park first grew the organism in petri dishes. It started out eating oatmeal, then moved on to tree bark, and continues to grow in a terrarium.
 
“It’s capable of learning,” said David. “If we put it in a maze, it will learn and take the best route out of the maze to find its food. If we put an obstacle in front of it —the blob hates salt, for example—if we put a very light barrier of salt in front of it, it won’t cross it right away, even if there is food behind it. The blob will learn how to get past the barrier and get it its food, and it will start to do this more quickly and more strongly.”
 
The blob got its name from researchers as a nod to the 1958 horror film by the same name. Starring Steve McQueen, the film features a slimy substance from space that crash lands on Earth that terrorizes a town in Pennsylvania by devouring everything in its way. 

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