Discover the blob, this mystery of nature that enters the Vincennes Zoo

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It looks like a fine lichen but it is not a mushroom. He advances 4 cm per hour, can reach 30 m2 wingspan and his favorite hobby is "to explore" his close environment by solving all kinds of difficulties … but he is not an animal either.

He is the blob, a strange yellow and greenish mass, traversed by a thousand veins, which each of us may have crossed unknowingly in undergrowths rather humid and not too luminous. "It needs 70 to 80% humidity and an ambient temperature of 20-22 degrees," says Marlène Itan, gardener at the zoo and "blobicultrice" at the Zoological Park of Paris in the Bois de Vincennes, first zoo in the world to make room for the blob from this Saturday.

He knew the dinosaurs

Where to classify it, where to shelter it, this strange non-beast without brain but whose researchers have confirmed that he had memory, and a capacity of adaptation and immortality so phenomenal that it allowed him to to go through hundreds of millions of years?

"He knew the dinosaurs and saw them disappear, he was there long before us and we will probably see us disappear too! ", Predicted as a false joke Luca Morino, ethologist, primatologist and now also" blobologist "at the Zoological Park of Paris (XII). "Primates and blobs have a cognitive capacity that can be compared, it's exciting for a researcher," he readily admits.

In a "Blob Zone" and a vivarium especially created for him, the Blob, – its real name Physarum Polycephalum -, enters the species of the big Parisian zoo of the National Museum of Natural History (MNHN).

Marlene Itan, from the team of gardeners of the zoo, became "blobicide" of this strange animal that is not one. LP / Élodie Soulié
Marlene Itan, from the team of gardeners of the zoo, became "blobicide" of this strange animal that is not one. LP / Élodie Soulié

An event that will not only fascinate the thousands of visitors to the zoo. This unusual and not really graceful species, between the sponge and the foam, incites a thousand questions about our own species and will even give some grist to the philosophers …

If it is not an unknown species, if it occupies the researchers since the 1960s, until now it did not enthrall the crowds. Today his mysteries make him a star and make him leave the laboratories. "The blob even questions the concept of the individual because if you cut it in two, the two parties will make their life and if we bring two, they merge and we realize that the fusion also involves the transmission of knowledge, "continues Luca Morino.

720 sexes!

An example ? Blob, which craves protein and nutrients from oatmeal and bacteria, does not like salt at all. "If you put a barrier of salt between him and the food, the first time he will collide, the next time he will understand that he can climb the obstacle and go to the food side," says Luca Morino.

Similarly, if there are 20 possible paths to find an exit, the blob will choose the shortest one. "He does things he should not be able to do," insists the ethologist. The blob can also "almost" die and be dormant for an infinite time: seemingly dry, a good water and a little food will wake you better than Sleeping Beauty. On this subject, "Beauty" has in reality … 720 sexes.

At the zoological park of Paris, the breeding began in September, from a microscopic piece of nothing, very yellow and without real form. In a few hours and well fed, it doubled in volume, then doubled again. "Every morning we give a handful of moistened oatmeal, and when it is evolved it feeds on mushrooms especially," explains Marlene Itan. Not that he likes mushrooms, he who looks so much like that, but because he extracts the essential nutrients for his growth every day.

"If it is yellow and very thick, it is healthy," smiles with a tender satisfaction the "nurse" of all these little bits of blob.

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