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Image depicting slime mould, as in, This slime mold can 'think' without a brain

This slime mould can ‘think’ without a brain

Recommended for Middle Grades

Slime mould and intelligence

We have always believed that having a brain is what helps us make decisions – like, where to go and what to do. However, new studies show that this is not completely necessary.

Recently, scientists have found that a slippery yellow-coloured slime mould (or mold) uses its body to figure out in which direction it wants to go. And it can do this without having a brain! Neither does it have a nervous system or other body parts.

This mould is called Physarum polycephalum or the many-headed slime mould. It has been shown to do a lot of things that we generally think only organisms with brains can do. Scientists have found that it can even remember previous places it found food.

The many-headed slime mould

This mould is not a fungus nor is it a plant or an animal. It belongs to a kingdom (group) called the protist kingdom. This kingdom includes organisms that are not fungi, plants or animals.

When it first forms, it starts as individual cells. Then the cells combine and form a large, single-cell organism. It lives in dark, hot and wet environments like forest floors.

Such organisms are making scientists raise important questions about intelligence and what we should consider as “intelligent life”.

 

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