I’m taking time out of my intense campaigning for more flightless birds in romance novels to bring you this public service announcement about the awesomeness of slime mold. I’m completely serious - I don’t joke about things like slime mold. My Master’s advisor turned me on to slime molds when we spent an entire class period talking about them because he loves them so much. Loves them to the point that one of the most prominent dinosaur paleontologists said, “If I didn’t love dinosaurs so much, I’d totally study slime molds.” Ok, he probably didn’t throw in a “totally”, but I’ve found that with each advanced degree I get I talk more and more like a valley girl, so in my memory, that’s how he said it.
Anyways, here are just a few of the reasons why slime molds are so awesome:
(1) Hey baby, check out the size of my cell
Those big, sometimes brightly-colored oozing masses you may sometimes see in the woods? Yeah, that’s one cell. One. Cell. With multiple nuclei. How cool is that! Additionally, some slime mold cells can also join together to form big multicelluar colonies. Ultimate teamwork. Actually, they kinda remind me of myself. Most of the time I really just want to sit on my couch and enjoy solitude. But during a zombie apocalypse I would want to be around other people. You know, to use as weapons and bait.
(2) Slime mold wants you covered, wants you smothered like its Waffle House hashbrowns
These guys move. Honest to God. They’re the things that blob-like horror movies are made of, except they don’t try to eat you. Actually, they're totally harmless. And I'm sure they were Steve McQueen's biggest fans.
(3) When I think about me I touch myself
What’s sexier than confidence? Slime mold has such confidence in its evolutionary superiority that it doesn’t need to look outside it’s own DNA to supplement its gene pool – it just gets it on with itself and BAM! Houston, we have spawn. Don’t let the fact that the above statement makes it sound like an inbred Nazi turn you off. Sometimes, when the conditions are perfect (and by perfect I mean that they happen to run into a compatible slime mold in heat. Which I'm sure happens ALL the time...), slime molds can reproduce sexually. But everyone knows that budding off is way more fun. Wait…what?
(4) Taking one for the team
You thought Dumbledore made “For the Greater Good” look sexy? Wrong. That was slime mold. As any child who ever had their innocence ripped from them by watching hyenas kill baby cheetahs or crocodiles eat the mangled bodies of baby elephants or orcas toy with baby seals on the Discovery Channel (back when they showed nature shows) knows, Mother Nature can be a brutal bitch. So when environmental conditions turn harsh, and slime molds are forced to extremes to ensure survival, some of them commit suicide. Nothing says survival like death. Dictyostelium discoideum cells, for example, congregate together (essentially forming a multicelluar organism) and form “puff balls” (for lack of a better term) that are raised on a stalk. The slime mold cells that make up the stalk undergo altruistic suicide or “programmed cell death” to lift the puff ball up higher. The ultimate point of their sacrifice is that spores form within these puff balls and can then be disseminated to colonize new areas. Despite the video footage of cute baby animals being brutalized, this is why nature is so great: it’s all about eating and sex.
So long story short, slime mold makes up the awesomesauce that is poured over things. You have a piece of awesome covered in awesomesauce? Yeah, that’s slime mold. You’re welcome.