Those who may have picked through their belly buttons before to pull out lint and other crud may see humor in this.

North Carolina State University has launched the Belly Button Biodiversity project to examine just what's lurking in there. Researchers launched the project to interest people in microbiology and teach them about the bacteria that is found on skin.

Researchers opted for belly buttons because, as they said, "no one volunteers when we ask for armpit samples."

... Volunteers are given a sterile cotton swab, and then are told to turn it around in their navel three times and place the swab in a vial.

Scientists culture the bacteria, and once they have grown enough, they are photographed. The volunteers are given a sample number, so that they can view their bacteria online.

Participants also submit information about their habits and other details. For example, they are asked how often they wash their navels, their age, sex, ethnicity, and where they grew up, as well as whether they have an "innie" or an "outie."

This is fascinating. Gross -- but fascinating.  Now how many of you just touched your belly button?

Source: NC State University