I Support (my belly button’s) Biodiversity!

Thanks to the indefatigable Glenn Reynolds, I’ll never look at, or clean, my belly button the same way again:

If you were told you had an ecosystem living in your belly button, it might come as a bit of shock. Well, you probably do. These are just a few of the samples that Belly Button Biodiversity (BBB), a group of scientists from North Carolina University in Raleigh and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, have taken from themselves as well as students, science bloggers and others.

BBB want to strike down the “bad bacteria” stereotype and teach the world that many bacteria are harmless, helpful and a lot of times just hanging around, mooching off your body. The navel is an ideal place for bacteria to thrive because it’s isolated and most people don’t bother to wash it. (ed: ewww!) But what BBB wondered was, do the bacteria change from person to person?

The answer to that last question is yes, everyone has their own unique little navel ecosystem. The point of the research, as far as I can gather, is to teach all the compulsive anti-bacterial hand sanitizer, disinfecting spray-using hygiene freaks to lighten up a bit. A little dirt is actually really, really healthy for us. So let’s hear it for the bacteria living in our belly buttons! (but hey, let’s commit to maybe wash it once in a while).


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