Researchers have found a yellow slime mould (pictured) which feeds off fungi and bacteria in forests can learn, despite not having a brain or central nervous system

  • Slime moulds are single celled creatures which join together in one mass
  • Researchers found the moulds learned to overcome ‘fear’ of substances
  • They say that this illustrates a type of learning called habituation
  • Slime moulds don’t have brains or central nervous systems, so scientists  said the findings may hint at the earliest evolution of learning

If you go down to the woods today you’re sure to get a surprise – in the form of a weird pulsating slime that can dodge harm.

Researchers have found a yellow slime mould that feeds off fungi and bacteria in forests can learn, despite not having a brain or central nervous system.

Made up of individual single-celled organisms which group together to form a ‘multi-headed’ slime, scientists said the strange yellow slime mould’s ability to learn turns evolution on its head.

Scientists studying the slime mould said it is the first time an organism without a central nervous system has demonstrated it is capable of learning.

Yellow slime moulds (Physarum polycephalum) are part of strange branch of the tree of life called protists, which are distant relatives of plants, animals and fungi.