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The Bizarre Collective Consciousness of Slime Mold

Illustration for article titled The Bizarre Collective Consciousness of Slime Mold

This shimmering, metallic structure isn't a new configuration of carbon nanotubes. It's actually a slime mold, which grows on dead plants. Not only does it look alien, but it has a very alien lifecycle. Individual slime mold cells can merge into one giant cell, up to 30 meters across.

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There are many types of slime mold, and they come in a variety of lurid colors. You can see several examples, photographed by Russian researchers, in this gallery. You can see the two forms of slime mold in these pictures - the gooey collective form (the yellow grid/blob) and the more commonly-seen individuated form that looks like a stalk with a small sphere or lozenge on top.

via English Russia (Thanks, Ekaterina Sedia!)

Illustration for article titled The Bizarre Collective Consciousness of Slime Mold
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Illustration for article titled The Bizarre Collective Consciousness of Slime Mold
Illustration for article titled The Bizarre Collective Consciousness of Slime Mold
Illustration for article titled The Bizarre Collective Consciousness of Slime Mold
Illustration for article titled The Bizarre Collective Consciousness of Slime Mold
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Illustration for article titled The Bizarre Collective Consciousness of Slime Mold
Illustration for article titled The Bizarre Collective Consciousness of Slime Mold
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Illustration for article titled The Bizarre Collective Consciousness of Slime Mold

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DISCUSSION

Corpore Metal

Fungi are some of the weirdest critters on this planet. They not animals or plants. They are the main reason biologists historically created a third taxonomic kingdom, the protista.*

* Which has recently be replaced by a new scheme. Biology never stands still.