Connect to share and comment

News you wish you didn't know.

Belly button bacteria: What's living in your navel?

Belly button bacteria research suggests 'tropical forest' of thousands of microbial fauna.
Belly button bacteria 2012 11 15Enlarge
Samples of the many types of bacteria that live in our belly buttons. (Belly Button Diversity/Screengrab)

Your belly button may look clean, but a new study says it's home to thousands and thousands of different bacteria.

In fact, researchers at North Carolina State University liken human navels to a "tropical forest" of microbial fauna, some even new to science.

More from GlobalPost: Multivitamins don't prevent heart disease, a new study shows

But don't worry.

"It's quite beautiful," researcher Rob Dunn says in the study.

The Belly Button Biodiversity project began about a year ago with the navels of 60 intrigued (if not somewhat grossed out) volunteers, who swabbed their belly buttons with a Q-tip for scientists, National Geographic reported.

From those swabs, the team found 2,368 bacterial species -- 1,458 of which may be new to science.

More from GlobalPost: Hormones in menstrual cycle may worsen asthma, study finds

They included strange species, such as one found in Dunn's navel that appears to prefer to break down pesticides, The Huffington Post reported.

Another participant harbored a species of bacteria only found in Japan -- a place neither he or his family had ever visited.

And one subject, who admittedly hadn’t washed for years, hosted two species of bacteria that typically thrive in ice caps and thermal vents, according to ZME Science.

But while all of this is grossly fascinating, Dunn's team now wants to know which bacteria typically calls the human body home, why they do this and what the differences mean.

"We're all like the guys before Darwin who went out and brought this stuff on the ship and said, 'Check out this bird that's totally weird! This has got to be important!

"They were still so far from understanding the big picture," Dunn told National Geographic. "That's where we are."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/weird-wide-web/belly-button-bacteria-whats-living-your-navel