A zoo in Paris will welcome a new occupant on Saturday: called a "blob" it is a yellow lichen-like organism that remains a mystery even to biologists.
The blob doesn't have a brain, but can solve problems and share knowledge. It has no mouth, stomach or eyes, but can detect and eat food.
It heals itself in two minutes if cut in half, can move up to 4cm in an hour despite not having limbs and has 720 sex organs.
Part of the Myxomycetes family, a class of slime moulds, a "blob" is neither an animal nor a fungus but has characteristics of both, and is yet to be classified.
"The 'blob' is a living being that is [one] of nature's mysteries. We don't really know what it is," director of the Paris Museum of Natural History, Bruno David, said, adding that it lives and grows in damp forest undergrowth away from the light.
He explained: "It behaves like an animal. It's capable of learning. If we put it in a maze, it will learn and take the best route out of the maze to find its food.
"If we put an obstacle in front of it – the 'blob' hates salt, for example – if we put a very light a barrier of salt in front of it, it won't get past it right away, even if there is food behind it. Then the 'blob' will learn how to get past the barrier and get to its food, and it will start to do this more quickly. If we fuse two blobs together, the one which [has] learned [this] will transmit its knowledge to the other."
Similar biological oddities exist in the wild, but this is the first in the world to go on display in captivity. It will be on view at the Paris Zoo from Saturday, October 19.