We are so ignorant about our bodies and what lives on them that our observations, scant though they may be, have outpaced our theory. Just what microbes live on any given individual and why is not known. It is not even well speculated upon. Because we are just beginning, we are in that wonderful phase of science when radical hypotheses are not only hard to rule out, they are useful, necessary and oh so fun. If you have ideas about what governs the patterns from person to person and around the world in microbial composition, offer them here. As we move forward, we have the possibility to test not only the hypotheses we come up but also yours too. And so look at the microbes we have found so far, take your field notes and offer your hypotheses. With time, we will update the images her with data on which lineages are present in which belly. When we do, we can begin to test hypotheses. In the meantime, hypothesize away.
Note: Let’s stick to belly buttons for now. They are islandlike and so useful for thinking about general patterns, much like the Galapagos Islands. Yes, I just compared your belly button to a Galapagos Island.