TAMPA, FLORIDA– Half the size of a cigarette and squirmy, the black marine worm Lumbriculus variegatus isn’t much to take a look at. However these citizens of sulfur caverns and flooded locations like business and typically numerous thousands come together as “blobs” with habits not unlike the 1958 film by the very same name. Tangled up in squishy masses that can be the size of a basketball or larger, the worms are changed into a pulsating ball flexible adequate to squeeze through tubes, hold together and bounce off surface areas, or expanded or diminish depending upon the conditions.
The odd behavior helps these animals weather extreme conditions, scientists reported here today at the yearly conference of the Society for Integrative and Relative Biology.
The worms breathe through their skin and require to remain damp. A single worm lives less than an hour in air at space temperature level and humidity. However a blob of 20 makes it through more than 5 hours, and the survival time increases as the number of worms boosts, the scientists found. The external ones might dry, however inner ones remain damp. The worms glom together to lessen the exposed area that loses wetness, and therefore truly huge blobs can even stand up to being dried with a hairdryer, the scientists keep in mind.
The blob is likewise flexible. A 50,000- worm blob positioned in a container with a gradient of temperature level will move towards the chosen temperature level, functioning as a strong mass. However in other situations, it “liquifies” and flows— through tubes, for instance, they found.
Based upon their growing understanding of these blobs, the researchers are developing robots that might ultimately display comparable cumulative habits and might one day solve complex problems or perform intricate building or searching tasks.