Ever wonder what lives in your belly button? Me, either. But apparently God gave the ecologists at North Carolina State University a double dose of curiosity.
In 2012, they sampled 60 belly buttons and analyzed the swabs for bacteria. They found over 2,368 species of bacteria—1,458 of which appear to be unknown to science.
They also discovered the average number of species harbored in a belly button was 67 species, although some individuals had as few as 29 and others had as many as 107 species.
Who knew we’d have so many bacterial hitchhikers hiding in our orifices? One individual had belly button bacteria found only in soil from Japan—a place he’d never been. Another person carried around extremophile bacteria that usually thrive in polar ice and thermal vents.
What will come out of this study? Researchers believe that microbes are involved in physical processes on the body, including immune function.
Could you someday take a pill filled with the bacteria from your neighbor’s belly button swab? Yikes. That kind of gives new meaning to the phrase love thy neighbor.
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