Wednesday 25 March 2015

Creature 176: Physarum polycephalum

Can solve mazes without a brain.

Physarum polycephalum is a slime mold, much like Fulgio septica or Stemonitis fusca.

Like other slime molds, it has a mobile plasmodium phase in its life cycle which it enters when it is searching for food. Despite the fact that they have no brains or nerves or no cellular specialisation, these slime molds are capable of solving maze problems. Several experiments have been done showing their ability to arrange themselves in the shortest shape between 2 food sources. They have also been shown to solve networking problems between as many as 36 points with comparable efficiency to humans. We are not entirely sure how they manage to achieve this.

Physarum polycephalum can also survive in a dormant phase as a dried out husk.

Physarum polycephalum can be found all over the world in cool moist areas with low sunlight.

Kingdom: Amoebozoa
Phylum: Mycetozoa
Class: Myxogastria
Order: Physarida
Family: Physaridae
Genus: Physarum
Species: Physarum polycephalum

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