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11 Slightly Horrifying Things You Never Knew About Belly Buttons

Anyone for some belly button cheese?

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1. Your belly button is one of your very first scars.

Greg801 / Getty Images / Via Thinkstock

Your belly button is formed from scar tissue left over from the umbilical cord that joined you to your mother's placenta. Once the umbilical cord was cut, the stump that was left behind fell off, leaving you with what is now your weird, but wonderful, belly button.

2. Our belly buttons are crawling with bacteria.

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In a 2012 research paper literally titled "A Jungle in There", scientists investigated the biological diversity found in 60 belly buttons and identified a total of 2,368 different species living within those dark, cavernous holes.

The average person had 67 species swarming around in there.


4. Lots of mammals have no belly button at all.

UCL researcher Stacy Hackner explains that all placental mammals, aka those that were nourished before birth in the mother's uterus, start with a belly button. However, most of these mammals (and certain humans) have their navels obscured by fur, fade over time, or have a thin scar or small bump instead.

5. You might be more likely to have belly button lint if you’re a male, older, hairy, and have an "innie".

In a not 100% scientific Belly Button Lint survey undertaken by Dr Karl Kruszelnicki for ABC Science, Kruszelnicki tested lint samples from participants and asked them to shave their belly hair to see if this prevented lint from collecting. Results found that lint is formed from a mix of clothing fibres, hair, and skin cells, and that lint formation is linked to hairiness, since belly hair essentially pulls fibres into the navel.

6. Speaking of lint, someone actually holds the Guinness World Record for the largest lint collection.

Graham Barker / Via

In November 2000, a man named Graham Barker was officially recognised for the largest collection of belly button lint, earning him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Barker has collected navel lint since 1984, filling three large bottles.

7. Gazing at your own navel was once a form of meditation.

Fox / Via

According to, Greek Christian monks of Mount Athos used a specific method of "navel contemplation" called Hesychasm, which was believed to give them a broader insight into divine glory.

9. Belly button fetishes are a real thing.


A study by Gert Heilbrunn published in a 1975 issue of The Psychoanalytic Quarterly looked at a 27-year-old man's obsession with belly buttons, specifically "protruding navels". The high school teacher was so fascinated with "outies" that he tried on two occasions to fashion his very own "outie", once with a razor blade (from which he almost bled to death) and again with a threaded needle.

According to the report, the man felt no pain during the latter procedure "until his ecstasy had waned through the ensuing masturbatory orgasm". Lovely.

10. You can make cheese from your belly button germs.

Christina Agapakis / Via

As part of a collaborative project named "Selfmade", biologist Christina Agapakis and odour artist Sissel Tolaas teamed up to make 11 cheeses from the bacteria found in armpits, mouths, belly buttons, and toes.

According to an article on, swab cells came a variety of places on the body, including food writer Michael Pollan's belly button and artist Olafur Eliasson's tears.

11. Even the Earth has a belly button.

John Fowler / Via Flickr: snowpeak

According to, in the heart of Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument lives a giant pothole colloquially named the "Cosmic Navel".

The unique landform is almost 200 feet wide, and geologists believe it may be up to 216,000 years old.


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