William Wordsworth was on to something. As the poet claimed, a newborn never enters the world in utter nakedness but instead comes trailing clouds of glory—if by clouds of glory you mean a coating of mostly helpful microbes picked up from the fluids inside mom’s birth canal.
Bad news, hypochondriacs: You’re walking in a massive cloud of bacteria. In fact, it’s kinda an extension of your body, and no amount of showering will rid you of it. Even better: It grew out of your mouth, poop and skin.
When we think of biodiversity, usually our minds conjure up colorful lush images of plants and trees, bright amphibians, reptiles and fish, mammals, and brightly tinted birds on the wing. Maybe you even think of crazy looking insects. But what most of us don’t often think of when we think of biodiversity is the world beneath our feet, the teeming life below ground.
The trillions of bacteria that live on us and in us—otherwise known as our microbiomes—are vital to our health in ways we’re just beginning to understand. Now scientists have discovered the most diverse collection of bodily bacteria ever, in a remote Amazonian tribe of southern Venezuela.