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This slime mold has 720 different sexes and can heal itself in minutes. It’s called ‘the blob’

Vic Parsons October 17, 2019

The "Blob", a unicellular organism neither plant, mushroom nor animal and capable of learning despite its lack of neuron. (STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP via Getty Images)

A slime mold dubbed “the blob” that has no mouth or brain yet is capable of eating and learning has been unveiled by a zoo in Paris.

Dubbed the “blob”, the organism has almost 720 different sexes. It can also move without legs and will heal itself in two minutes if cut in half.

It will go on display in the Paris Zoological Park from Saturday, 19 October, and will be viewable by members of the public. The slime mold is widely used in scientific experiments.

The blob, scientific name Physarum polycephalum, is a yellowish, unicellular living being that looks like a fungus but acts like an animal. It has no mouth, stomach or eyes yet it can detect and digest food.

It was nicknamed the “blob” after a 1958 science-fiction horror movie, starring Steve McQueen, in which a small Pennsylvania town is visited by an alien – the Blob – that eats everything in its path.

The ‘blob’ is neither plant, mushroom nor animal and capable of learning despite its lack of neuron. (STEPHANE 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.

The “blob” is not the only living being that has more than two sexes or blurs gender binaries.

In 2011, a single-celled organism that lives in freshwater was found to have seven sexes. Another fungus, discovered in 2017, has more than 20,000 different sexes.

Other animals that don’t adhere to a strict sex binary include the hyena – all hyenas have a penis that becomes erect around female hyenas, who give birth through their penises (penises on females are larger than penises on males, too) – and lions, which have been observed changing gender in the wild.

Animals are also pretty gay.

More: gender, Paris, slime mold, the blob

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