The Truth About What's In Your Belly Button

Consider the belly button. It's one of your torso's defining features, but what do you really know about it? It's a mysterious fold of gut skin. A pocket in your otherwise seamless midsection. The Marianas Trench of the tummy. What mysteries might it hold if you ever gave it more than an absentminded picking during Netflix binges and video game cutscenes?

Navel warfare

The belly button, or "umbilicus" if you want to sound very cool at parties ... As you probably know, it's the leftover scar tissue from where your sweet mama used to pump nutrients into your body like a loving Matrix stasis pod. Whether you boast an innie, an outie, or the rarely documented shake-it-all-aboutie, your navel's warm, dark, biologically active corners are a veritable oasis for microscopic organisms. Also, lint. Let's talk about lint.

As reported by the Telegraph in 2009, Georg Steinhauser, an Austrian chemist who was probably going through some stuff at the time, spent three years studying the whys and hows of belly button lint, trying to determine why some navels collect more than others. The answer he came up with: it's all about hair. Tiny little stomach hairs inside your navel, scratching away at the fibers of your shirts and hoarding the resulting fluff balls. In essence, if you have a particularly linty belly button, it's because you have a hairier navel than other people. Hey, look at you! You have something new to feel self conscious about!

That lint helps to create an Eyes Wide Shut party for bacteria, which thrive inside your umbilical scar. According to LiveScience, folks have an average of 63 distinct strains of bacteria in their navels. Some of them are run-of-the-mill, like staphylococcus, while others are decidedly exotic. Researchers have discovered microbes which are normally only found in places like the ocean and cheese factories with nothing but a Q-tip and a reckless disregard for their subjects' personal torso space.