If some science egghead told you that the yogurt you've just eaten contained a previously unknown species of bacteria, then you would probably gargle bleach. Nobody wants to hear that they've just swallowed something that's a mystery to science. But you can probably relax, because science doesn't have a goddamn clue what's in your food.
"Dear Lord ... Coors Light is made of people."
So, yes, scientists have in fact found completely unknown species in yogurt, but yogurt has nothing on the bacterial roulette you play when eating cheese. Scientists can't stop finding new species in basically all of the cheese.
However, you won't escape unknown species in your life by cutting down on dairy, because your body is much worse than cheese. Scientists from North Carolina State University swabbed the belly buttons of 60 volunteers and analyzed the genetic make-up of the micro-organisms living there. Between them all, they found 2,368 species of bacteria, and they reckon 1,458 of them may be previously unknown.
For those of you too horrified to do the math, that's an average of around 24 new species in each belly button. Even those bacteria they recognized were unexpected, with one volunteer hosting species normally found in underwater thermal vents and arctic ice sheets.
"I do shoot a lot of boiling steam at my belly. Think that might have something to do with it?"
But don't feel too bad -- there's basically nowhere on Earth where strange new bacteria doesn't show up. For example, NASA's "clean rooms," which are designed to be completely free of bacteria so they don't wind up contaminating their sensitive instruments. But an analysis of swabs taken in those rooms found 193 different species of bacteria, at least 13 of them unknown. Hell, NASA is so busy looking for life on other planets, they don't even know how many aliens they've eaten for lunch today.
Kathy wrote a very funny book and you can buy it here. Alan has a blog with more jokes or you can email him at email@example.com.
Related Reading: The Internet is the most ridiculous place of all, so it should be no surprise that Google Earth is responsible for some incredible discoveries. Including a real-life Land of the Lost, found by scientists on the Internet. If that sounds crazy, you should know that some of the greatest discoveries in history were made by random people who stumbled into them. The Venus de Milo? Found by a treasure-seeking farmer. That's almost as crazy as the time all those ancient Chinese tombs were bulldozed to make an IKEA.