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Gut Feeling -- Writer's Poke #414

Some people have difficulty thinking about evolution, but if you want to think about evolution, the best place to start might be in your guts. Ed Yong suggests that studying “mummified stool samples” will tell us a lot about “the intestinal genetic trade” and the “big role in our evolution” it played. 

According to Yong, “Within each of our bowels, there are around a hundred trillion microbes, whose cells outnumber our own by ten to one.” Think about that the next time you have a “gut feeling.”

We carry about a few pounds of stuff within us that is not us. We’re not born with it, but we need it to live. And the stuff Americans carry around isn’t the same stuff that Japanese carry around. We need different stuff, quite simply, because we eat different stuff – or, to be accurate, our stuff eats different stuff. 

I have to admit that thinking about bacteria squatting in my guts is pretty gross; on the other hand, it’s also pretty marvelous. In a sense, it’s also quite humbling to think that without bacteria’s assistance, you and I quite simply wouldn’t be around.

What makes you, you?

“There’s something sexy about a gut. Not a 400-pound beer gut, but a little paunch. I love that.” – Sandra Bullock


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