Inside Your Belly Button: A Ton of Mysterious Bacteria

In 95 samples, 662 new strains found
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 5, 2011 9:42 AM CDT
Updated Jul 9, 2011 8:26 AM CDT

(Newser) – Breaking science news: Your belly button is kinda gross. A new study, the amusingly named Belly Button Biodiversity project, found more than 1,400 strains of bacteria in 95 navel swab samples, the Washington Post reports. Of those, 662 couldn't be classified to a family—suggesting those microbes are "new to science," a team leader says.

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It may sound disturbing, but the project just illustrates our ignorance when it comes to microbial diversity, the team leader adds: Biologists haven't done enough sampling in enough habitats, which is why so many new microbes are being seen. The phenomenon is similar to European explorers seeing African wildlife such as elephants, which now seem common, for the very first time. (Read more microbe stories.)

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