The navel, wrinkled and cupped, whorled and domed, blind and winking, bald and tufted, sweaty and powdered, kissed and bitten, waxed and fuzzy, bejeweled and ignored.



Innie or Outie

Whether you have an ‘inny’ or an ‘outie’ is nothing to do with the way the cord was cut. After birth, the umbilical cord is cut off an inch or two from the newborn’s belly. It later dries up and falls off as the muscles close up; the navel is the scar left from the base of the cord.

Usually the scar ends up slightly retracted – but sometimes extra skin stays, making it stick out. Or the muscles don’t close off and you’re left with a little protruding hernia, which usually fixes itself in the first year.

No Navel

Nearly all mammals have belly buttons. Marsupials don’t have navels. The umbilical cord detaches while they’re in the pouch, so no scar forms. Platypuses don’t have them either, because they lay eggs. 


Don’t gaze too hard at your belly button
Or you will unexpectedly hit rock bottom!


There are souls, he thought, whose umbilicus has never been cut.

Belly Button Fauna

A team of scientists from North Carolina State University, decided to study the fauna of belly buttons. From 60 belly buttons, the team found 2,368 bacterial species, 1,458 of which may be new to science.

Some navels harbored as few as 29 species and some as many as 107, although most had around 67. Even though not a single strain showed up in every belly button, eight species were present on more than 70 percent of the subjects and when these species appeared, they did so in huge numbers.

Most of the bacteria only occurred in a single navel. One person harbored a bacterium that had previously only been found in soil from Japan - where he has never been. Another individual, who hadn't washed in several years, hosted two species of so-called extremophile bacteria that typically thrive in ice caps and thermal vents.

Your kidney and gall bladder can be surgically removed through the navel to prevent scarring.

Navel of the World

Lots of cultures have a myth of the ‘navel of the world’, the mythical point at which the world began. There are dozens – in Arizona, Jerusalem, Easter Island, Mount Zion, and so on.

The Aztec name for their capital, ‘Mexico Tenochtitlan’, literally meant the ‘navel of the universe’. 

‘Omphalos’ is the Greek for ‘navel’.

In some yoga practices, Omphaloskepsis, or navel-gazing, is an aid to meditation.

The Australian beer maker, 7 cent Brewery, has made ‘Belly Button Beer’ using yeast cultivated from the belly buttons of its brewers.

Your belly button can house over 100 species of bacteria.

A study shows that how fast you run is not determined by your height but the position of your belly button. The higher, the faster.

The omphalodium is a rather nice way of describing the belly button.

The ‘tradition’ of belly dancers wearing a jewel in their navels came about because of  restrictions on showing the bare navel in 1930s films.