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What's inside your belly button? The answer might gross you out

BELLYBUTTON111712_optBY PAM LOBLEY
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
NOW THAT'S FUNNY

Ever wondered what is in your belly button? Me neither. However, scientists did. And they have been swabbing and studying samples of bacteria from the navels of 60 different participants.

The Belly Button Diversity project (yes that is an actual project  and yes, they have a website) decided to investigate what types of microbes were living inside the human belly button. The project began as a way to get the general public more interested in science, and what better way to do that than to explore what kind of crud is living on our skin? As reported in National Geographic, the belly button was just ridiculous enough to appeal to people.

And appeal it did, because 60 people signed up to be swabbed, and from those samples scientists found 2,368 bacterial species, 1,458 of which may be new to science.

The bacteria varied widely from subject to subject and had some strange occurrences. One navel harbored a bacterium that had previously been found only in soil from Japan—a place that person had never been.

The belly button is considered a treasure trove of microbe information, because most of us don’t wash it that often. In fact, one of the participants who is characterized as being unwashed “for several years”, had two species of bacteria that typically thrive in ice caps and thermal vents.

OK. I am officially adding a new step in my shower routine.

This information is fun, I guess, but where the research is leading is still up in the air. It could have implications for health or medicine, but scientists need to first figure out how the bacteria got there, and why it may be thriving.

This takes navel gazing to a whole new level.

Pam Lobley writes the “Now That’s Funny” column. Check out her blog: Better Living Through Chaos! Follow her on Twitter @plobley.

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