The mystery of Blob, the brainless creature who, however, knows how to "think"

The mystery of Blob, the brainless creature who, however, knows how to think

The mystery of Blob

Scientific name Physarum polycephalum, continues to amaze researchers with its ability to make decisions only about the physical characteristics of the environment

(Image: Getty Images) but it is a living being. An animal? No. A plant? Neither. It will be a mushroom then. Wrong again. They call it Blob, but its real name is Physarum polycephalum (someone even opened a Twitter profile for it): it is a policefala slime that is part of the kingdom of protists, which has become famous because it continues to leave scientists speechless. Blob, in addition to having more than 700 sexes, has many heads but no brains. And despite this he "thinks".

Hi, I'm Blob

If you look for it on the warm sunny beaches you will certainly not find it. Blob lives in dark and humid environments such as undergrowth, where it feeds on organic matter by decomposing it. Physarum polycephalum at the beginning of its life is made up of many cells each with its own nucleus, which then merge to form a single large cell with many nuclei (there may even be millions). In this form Blob can move, feed and grow. And also do things you wouldn't expect from a creature that doesn't have a brain or nervous system, for example making decisions.


Previous research has already revealed that Blob he reacts to environmental stimuli such as light (from which he shuns) chemicals, is attracted to food resources and remembers the place where he found food or where he met a fellow human. He even manages to solve mazes, learn new things and exchange information.

But Blob is not limited to this and continues to amaze. With a new series of laboratory experiments, researchers from the Wyss Institute of Harvard University and Tuft University (USA) have discovered that this organism decides the direction in which to grow based solely on the physical characteristics of the surrounding environment, therefore in the absence of stimuli. food or chemical that affect its behavior.

For example, scientists placed Physarum polycephalum in the center of a Petri dish on an agar medium and placed a glass disc on one side of the plate, from the another three glass discs side by side. Left for 24 hours in the dark, for the first 12 hours Blob grows indifferently in all directions, but then, without having first physically explored the whole area, 70% of the time it decides to send its extensions towards the side where they are. placed the three disks.

(Image: Nirosha Murugan, Levin lab, Tufts University and Wyss Institute at Harvard University) Scientists initially thought it could sense the larger mass, but other experiments in which the three diskettes were stacked did not confirm this. Computer simulations ultimately revealed that this “remote recognition” capability is due to a ground deformation perception mechanism in which stretch-sensitive proteins appear to be involved. Similar molecules, called Trp proteins, are also present on the cell membranes of some mammals. It is the clue, according to the researchers, of how early biomechanical perception appeared in the evolution of living organisms and how much it can be connected to morphogenesis and behavior and to what we call intelligence.

"Understanding how life proto-intelligent being able to do these kinds of calculations gives us more insight into the basics of animal cognition and behavior, including our own, ”commented Nirosha Murugan of Tuft University. Physarum polycephalum, added colleague Mike Levin of the Wyss Institute at Harvard University, "offers a new model for exploring the ways in which evolution uses physics to implement primitive cognition that drives form and function."

Environment - 14 hours ago

In Greece, fires are destroying an entire island

The UN climate report is a desperate call for each of us to do our part

Global warming is putting the Gulf Stream at risk


Environment brain Evolution globalData.fldTopic = "Environment, brain, Evolution"

This opera is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Powered by Blogger.