Bellybutton biodiversity update: Wonderlands upon wonderlands

By Carl Zimmer | July 30, 2011 10:31 am

Last month I contemplated the staggering diversity of microbes in my bellybutton–an experience made possible by my participation in a survey of microbiome diversity carried out by scientists at North Carolina State University. At the time, I thought I was quite the host. I was informed there were 53 species living in my navel, some of which had never been seen on skin before and some of which were altogether new to science. I was even informed that I was a “wonderland.”

Well, the project is moving forward at quite a clip, and the scientists are starting to push more of their data online. Here you can see the species from the first 60 volunteers they’ve studied. The lists are coded by number–I’m B944. I appear to have lost a species so I’m down to 52. And 52 is, I’m seeing, nothing to blog home about. So far, the diversity champion is the anonymous owner of bellybutton B1288. 107 species! Now that’s a wonderland….

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Link Love, Microcosm: The Book

Comments (2)

  1. John W

    You might not be a species count champ but you have quite a diversity of genus with 29 identified. B1288 only has 22 genus identified.

    [CZ: On the other hand, I’m glad no animals turned up…]

  2. Your belly button will ALWAYS be special to us.


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The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.


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