|Slime Mold - New York Times|
The words slime mold* produce an immediate "Yuck" response but they are actually incredible amoebas that live in the soil. Some are individual while others collect into masses that are able to communicate and spread in an organized fashion. A few species can actually develop a slug-like body.
Japanese researchers put slime mold in a maze with food sources at the ends. The molds extended tentacles down dead ends only to retreat and try another path (video example). Within four hours they were feasting on the food.
Researcher Andrew Adamatzky has a hobby of challenging them to create highways. He placed pieces of their food on the largest cities on a map of Spain and Portugal. The mold spread out, then withdrew, leaving tentacles to these cities which matched the actual existing highways. (video of Tokyo subway example)
|"Dog vomit" slime mold- Wikimedia|
You probably wonder how you could find a friend who would send you an article like this. If you want to find others who find these nature subjects fascinating, look into the Missouri Mycological Society (MOMS)** or other like organizations around the world. You will find your views of nature extending like...well, you know.... a slime mold.
* The basics on slime mold are covered in Wikipedia
** Missouri Mycological Society or MOMS Springfield Chapter
2012 research update.