The Biology Of Slimes | Alien Analysis


Slimes, slimes, slimes! You’ve got them in the games of Minecraft,
Terraria and Slime Rancher, to name a few. But what if slimes existed in the real world? How would their bodies function and how would
they go about in nature? Here’s one take on it! Slimes are blob-shaped creatures that bounce
around in many fantasy games. They are probably meant to be mere blobs of
actual slime that somehow have come alive. Of course that won’t hold in reality. If we try to think of slimes as actual living
organisms, they must be composed of cells … or… -at
the very least- one cell. In fact, slimes show a striking resemblance
to single-celled creatures like Amoebae. Amoebae are tiny protists that ooze around
by sticking blobby protrusions forward. These so-called pseudopods drag the rest of
the shapeless cell ahead. In fact, some or very own body cells are like
that. White blood cells, or phagocytes, move around
to catch and dissolve bacteria and other invaders. So one way of looking at slimes is as overgrown
Amoebae. Unfortunately there is a problem with that
idea. And that has to do with the nucleus, which
is the cell’s control center. There are actually limits to how large the
distance to the cell’s nucleus can be. Now that could be overcome with just having
multiple nuclei distributed all over the place. And organisms do exist today on Earth that
have that kind of so-called “syncytium”. Slime molds like Physarum species are an actual
example of slimy, shapeless creatures with a syncytium. But why not then have the slime consisting
of a lot of individual cells like a regular multicellular organism? Well, we do also have so-called cellular slime
molds that are like that, most notably Dictyostelium. It even has a slug-like phase, where it crawls
around as a discrete blob. But even though it is a close match,
slime molds are still not good candidates for what a slime creature could be like. Slime molds are either too tiny, or simply
too incohesive, being all over the place. The kind of Slime creature that we are thinking
of must: Have a distinct and firm shape. Jump for getting around, rather than crawl
Have eyes and a mouth and thus major organ systems. So, a slime would have to be a discrete, multi-cellular
organism. At least as complex as a jellyfish or a similar
creature. In fact, let’s consider jellyfish for a
moment! Jellyfish are soft-bodied sea creatures with
tentacles hanging down for catching food. They are shaped like a bell for pushing water
downwards to propel themselves. Their bodies are built up of two tissue layers:
An outer one, called the ectoderm, enclosing the jelly-like mesoglea inside
And and inner one, called the endoderm, forming the gut. So for our slime, we are thinking of a jellyfish-like
creature, but one that is round rather than bell-shaped. Comb jellies are creatures similar to jellyfish
that are like that. Most species of comb jelly are roughly ball-shaped
as they float around at sea. Stranded on the beach, they form small, transparent
blobs, very similar to the slimes in our favourite
games! However, they are helpless on land, so we
need to tweak a creature like this a bit. First of all, slimes appear to be relatively
large. They seem to be up to one meter in diameter,
and at least a third that size, or a foot. To retain shape for such a large body, a fluid-filled
body cavity is needed, surrounded by a meshwork of muscles to keep
it under pressure. On land, gravity will continually exert a
vertical force, trying to make the slime creature flat. The outer meshwork of muscles will be pushing
its body more-or-less back in form. The resulting shape will be wide in the lowermost
half, flattened on the bottom and rounded on the
top. And we do see this in most slimes. Well, except for those in minecraft…
for understandable reasons… Now we need a way to make our slimes jump. That means: We need a mechanism for building
up energy and then releasing it upwards. A bit like this guy: Imagine several rods similar to a vaulting
pole strutting the body cavity of the slime. You would at least need four for equal distribution
of the forces, but 6 or 8 would be better. In pole vaulting, the athlete bends the pole
downwards to store elastic energy. The energy is then released, throwing the
athlete into the air. The same principle can be applied to our slime’s
inner rods. For this, I got some help from a young YouTuber
by the screen name of CaveWeasel, who just also happens to be my 11-year old
son. 🙂 The idea is that there is a central muscle
band. This muscle pulls and bends the rods down,
squishing the body cavity in the process. Upon release, the rods will rebound and push
the entire body upwards. Looking at how slimes often are animated,
this is a close match to their way of moving. But one thing is jumping up and down, another
thing is moving in a certain direction, which we know slimes do. For this, the central muscle system needs
to be redesigned. Each rod would have its own muscle attached
at the top, originating from a central location at the
bottom. By pulling one muscle slightly more than the
other, the slime is able to jump in a certain direction! Of course, it would be nice to know where
to move towards, so that is probably why most slimes seem to
have some sort of paired eyes. But for eyes you would need a centralized
nervous system. And moving about implies that a slime would
want to move towards something, presumably a food source. Slimes are often portrayed as having some
sort of mouth, but no hands, trunk or other means of getting
food to the mouth. [drone]
However, slimes do have something else that could come in “handy”: A slimy outer surface! Being slimy on the outside, food particles
could simply stick onto the surface mucus and then be transported towards the mouth. The constant movement of mucus in that direction
can be achieved with tiny, rhythmically beating hairs called cilia, covering
the skin. In our own longs, there is a similar transport
of slime upwards the bronchi and towards the throat. So our slime anatomy is getting more and more
fleshed out, but there is still much more ground to cover! What about respiration? Would slimes need to breath? What about circulation? Would slimes need a heart? Given their size that would be a definite
yes to both questions, but how would it work? Let’s save all that for a follow-up video. If you want to hear more, please subscribe,
leave a like and a comment and I will heed your calls! For now: Bye bye!