God Made Dirt, So Dirt Don't Hurt
    By Michelle Sawyers ... | June 14th 2010 11:24 AM | 16 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Michelle

    Hello Fellow Science Enthusiasts! I'm a writer, designer and marketing professional with an MS in marketing & communications. Yeah, yeah, yeah...

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    Who hasn't heard (and somewhat believed) the saying "ashes to ashes, dust to dust" whose origins can be found in the Bible? To me, it implies that we are merely molded, living, mounds of dirt.

    Now whether or not you are religious - I will not pit religion against science and vice versa - I don't think anyone can argue that we are made up of the same substances as that found in the earth. In fact, aside from the testament in the Bible (for those who are religious), it has been scientifically proven, sorta, that man came from dustThe human body contains 59 elements and all of these elements are also found on the earth's crust. The major elements are of comparable proportions in both. And even more interesting is the fact that when there is an excess of some of these elements, such as aluminum, the body suffers various ailments and disease. With most of the human body being comprised of water, when dust is mixed with water you get clay. We are real live, walking and talking, claymations!

    Mineral graph of earth and human body

    Of Mice and Men

    For some reason, people almost always associate dirt with dirtiness in a negative way. But little do we know, research has shown that playing in dirt is actually beneficial. Not only has it been shown to make kids smarter, but It also contains the anxiety-reducing natural soil microbe Mycobacterium vaccae. Okay, now, I can see dirt being an alternative to anxiety-reducing medicines as many things in nature have medicinal benefits. But, to make you smart? Come on!

    Well, turns out that the bacterium causes an increase in the production of seratonin in mice. Seratonin reduces anxiety and aids in learning in mice and men. Mice exposed to bacterium ran the experimental maze faster than those not exposed to the bacterium. Apparently, this benefit could be linked to the reduction of anxiety and increase in learning in children as well. Soccer moms, let the children play... just be prepared to clean up the footprints on the white carpeting in the formal living room as they make a bee-line to take off their dirty dungarees and hop in the tub.

    Photo of boy playing in mud
    You Should Eat What You Are

    If we are made of dirt and can benefit from playing in dirt, would it also stand that we should eat what we are? Hah! Research has also shown that eating dirt may be beneficial too. Believe it or not, clay absorbs toxins and is believed to be particularly beneficial in pregnant women. Many cultures from ancient Greeks to sub-Saharan Africans eat dirt, also called geophagy. Who'd a thunk it?!? Dirt, the new green brown mineral supplement! But again, just like playing in dirt, there are stigmas against eating it. I bet most people didn't know that Kaopectate is made with clay! 

    Six Feet Under

    We humans are created from dirt and we can maintain a healthy body and mind by playing in and eating dirt. And then what? We DIE! Our bodies turn into lifeless lumps of clay. Then why is it that we spend thousands of dollars to have the lifeless lumps preserved in harmful chemicals (embalming fluids) and placed in fancy-smancy coffins with nonbiodegradable metals and other materials and topped with a tombstone as if icing on the cake... er, mud pie?

    With everyone "going green" would it not make sense to have "green burials"? Okay, here comes another "aha" moment, for there is a movement towards a greener death. In the 1990's, it was unheard of for Americans over 50 years old to desire eco-friendly burials. But in 2007, 21 percent preferred green burials. And the trend of green funerals is starting to catch on. However, it seems that people are more interested in reconnecting with nature rather than helping to save the environment. Do they not realize that, they will be added to the other end of the food chain and will, in a manner of speaking, become compost rubbage? How can they not glorify and gloat at the chance to give back to Mother Earth some of what has been taken away?

    Regardless of the reasons people decide to pass fashionably green from this life to wherever, everyone can take to heart the sing-song of children rolling around in the dirt chanting "god made dirt and dirt don't hurt"... and even take it to their grave for the benefit of the plants, earth, mankind and even creepy crawlies. At least kids aren't singing David Bowie's "Ashes to ashes, funk to funky. We know Major Tom's a junkie."


    At least kids aren't singing David Bowie's "Ashes to ashes, funk to funky. We know Major Tom's a junkie."
    The kids may not be singing it, but I know at least one person that is. Without knowing it, I found myself listening to George Hrab's acoustic version of Ashes to Ashes within an hour of reading this article. Given the extremely low rate at which I usually encounter Ashes to Ashes references (David Bowie himself is, of course, a different situation thanks to Labyrinth) this is quite a coincidence.
    Dirt is cool! Can't get enough of the stuff! lol : )
    Here's some really cool dirt! If you find this blue-colored dirt, which is the soil form of kimberlite, then you are more than likely to find diamonds!

    Image credit: My friend, geologist and mining consultant, Dan Hausel
    Eric:  that's a nicely engineered universal key!

    Michelle:  back in the 1950s my father told me that when I was a little crawler I would eat dirt.  He didn't see a problem with it.  He saw it as nature's way of giving the immune system a kick-start.  He also told me that rabbits kept in sterile cages die.  They are born with sterile guts and so can't digest cellulose.  Rabbits are 'double digesters' - they need to eat a proportion of their own droppings.  Ain't nature wonderful ?
    How about this “mud volcano” in the Ukraine?  You might find a woolly rhinoceros, or something like that!

    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
     Me thinks me reply got sucked into a cyber abyss... argh!
    Well, here is part of what I said before I was so rudely interneterrupted...

    I have no clue what that garbledy-goo is - the Wikipedia entry AND the slimy stuff - but not even in my wildest imagination am I seeing a GINORMOUS woolly rhinoceri (pl.?). Could it be woolly rhino scat? Or maybe a woolly rhino scat roundworm?

    I do find it strangely bizarre that it looks like a half-live version of your avatar, which I take to be electron microscopy or similar. Also, at first glance, the avatar has a fossilized look to it and so I could envision, without my wild imagination, a woolly rhino in your avatar more so than the snotty mass.
    the Wikipedia entry AND the slimy stuff
    I was really making that link for the pictures.  But here is what Google translate (Ukrainian to English) makes of it.

    As for my avatar, that creature emerged from a greenish acid gloop that is even more hostile (to humans) than the Ukrainian mud volcano.

    In pp. Starunia is known mud volcano. Geological monument of nature - the only and unique not only in the Carpathian region but worldwide. His appearance, he must first of all people. Over a century ago started to develop oil fields and ozokerytni. Ground water saturated with oxygen, now penetrate deep into the earth for a thousand meters, causing oxidation of oil and gives the heat flow that feeds the volcano. Volcano first showed itself in 1977 after an earthquake in the mountains Vranca in Romania and reached a height of 3 m. Then on a conical hill about 50 meters in diameter, the first craters, which vyhlyupuvalysya liquid mud and gas. Since the volcano "breathes" through dozens of less active mini-craters and out of relief plyamu. Sohodni like mud volcano craters has 8 and 12 non-permanent mikrokrateriv that emit gas, water, clay pulp, sometimes oil or its components. At the same time existing in Starunskoho ozokerite volcano, hot mud and water of high salinity have valuable medicinal properties.

    Scientists have several points of view on the causes of this geological wonder. According to one hypothesis, the volcano formed the so-called anticlinal skladtsi, ie, convex structure, which has some faults. And because of certain physical and chemical processes taking place at a depth of 600-1000 meters, occurring volcanic mud, mineral water, brine, there are formed compounds of lead, zinc, is the latest manifestation of tectonics, movements of young crust. For the first seven years, the area rose to a meter.
    [Edit.] Paleontological finds ice day

    Hairy Rhinoceros Coelodonta antiquitatis

    October 5, 1907 at the underground mine works in wax, which belonged to a German firm Campo Brothers, at a depth of 12.5 m balzamovane found the body of the mammoth (Elephas primigenius Blmb.). Znahidtsi initially did not provide value, and workers spread of homes on the skin, using it for sewing Postol. Only later reported on the mammoth power in Bogo, which, in turn, reported the researchers. Following research extracted remains mammoth November 7, 1907 transferred to muzeyu Didushytskyh in Lviv.

    Animals in the stomach even found herbaceous plants consumed before death. In the collection of the Museum of Natural History NAS of Ukraine Lvovitakozh 608 straws available from the Pleistocene invertebrates, found with the mammoth.

    At the end of October 1907 Dr. T. Visnovskyy delivered at a meeting of the Polish Society naturalists named after Copernicus Lviv scientific message on mammoth in Starunia.
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    LOL Robert! Ain't dirt and mud grand?! ;-)
    Josh - Haha! That's too funny! I just listened in - thanks for the link - and yeah, what a coincidence. Happy birthday to Geo! lol! Great rendition!

    Eric - All hail the king of dirt! Didn't I read somewhere you like to play in dirt? lol! I am clueless when it comes to geology and never heard of blue dirt or kimberlite. But now I'm thinking maybe there's a market for blue dirt green burials. This would be perfect for the Paris Hiltons and the like. Okay, now I need a partner. ;-)

    Patrick - Your dad was a smart one! And you just made me realize that I failed to mention the other component of dirt - scat.

    Thanks all for taking time to read my post and for leaving comments!

    the other component of dirt - scat.

    Our front gateway marks a boundary.  Inside it, cats make their mess, outside it dogs do theirs.  What with Toxoplasmosis, I find the former in particular a deterrent to children playing in the dirt.

    Also, having been a laboratory safety officer for some years, I find some of the technological detritus left by two-legged litter bugs somewhat alarming.

    I am assuming, of course, that the word quoted means what I think it does.  If so, can one keep a straight face when encountering Scat Cat in the Aristocats?

    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    I always knew that pregnant women were at risk for Toxoplasmosis and were warned against even changing litter boxes. And, I know cats are known to use kids' sand boxes like litter boxes and have had friends who were always sure to keep them covered. According to the CDC, there are a few organisms that may be harmful to humans when eating dirt, though seems like cases where someone got sick had to do with what they call abnormal situations, like sewage and industrial pollution. They mentioned roundworm found in cat feces (Toxocara cati) or dog feces (Toxocara canis) that is known to cause ToxocariasisI found it interesting that in preschoolers the larvae tend to invade various organ tissues throughout the body whereas in older children and adults they tend to invade eye tissue. The roundworm from raccoons (Baylisascaris procyonis) is often present in feces in dirt as well but it sounds like more of a nasty little bugger. I liked the positive angle of my article as it pertains to dirt, but this kinda stuff I don't even think I wanted to know.

    As for "technological detritus"... I don't even think I want to know.

    You know Scatman Cruthers didn't scat until later in his music career. Why he gave himself that stage name early on... I don't even think I want to know that either. lol!

    I've never heard of that child's song. I do, however, know Ashes to Ashes by heart and think that the music video is one of the best ever done. It was, in fact, my inspiration for becoming a music video wizard...

    It's not really a song but I remember as a kid saying it after dropping a lone piece of candy or something on the ground. It was more a little sing-song type of thing. You know, to convince yourself that you if you pick it up and eat it you won't die and so you chant it while you eat the dirty treat. This is similar to Eddie Murphy's "Delirious" Ice Cream Truck script where he said after dropping his ice cream in a pile of [poop] as a kid he "would be like, 'it's just sprinkles.'". 

    I guess other people had a longer version (see below). I wonder if this is like an extended unplugged remix of the one of my somewhat ancient era? Hah! But geez... is there anything that you can't find on Facebook? :-/ Saw another page with a similar saying but for people who like to go mudding in their trucks.

    God made dirt, dirt don't hurt, put it in your mouth&make it work


    And, so it seems there are others singing praises and giving glory to dirt. Here is an outdoorsy kind of guy who writes about his outdoor adventures.

    God made dirt, but dirt don't hurt blog

    And while I'm at it, here's a poor mom who looked away for a moment to look back and see her child's mouth oozing with mud as if it were melted chocolate!!!

    God Made Dirt and Dirt Don't Hurt Hub Page

    And this artist created a book of his works. I'm not sure where the dirt component comes in but there is mention of a "DJ Underground" that consists of his own interpretation of the homeless in San Francisco. Homeless people are usually pretty dirty. I've seen (and smelled) them walk past me in downtown Columbus. Not a pretty sight (or smell).

    God Made Dirt and Dirt Don't Hurt - Visual Journal Project by David Lee

    I'm sure there's more where those came from - Google is my BFF! :-) And with this newfound knowledge, maybe you too will get some inspiration like you got from Bowie's Ashes to Ashes. Just think of all the possibilities for a new video production... scatting in the diamond-laced dirt with your cartoon band called the Scat Cats surrounded by cat poop with giant roundworms hanging from your eyeballs... 

    Oh yeah, and thanks for posting the video! I hadn't seen it.

    Uh, well now I just feel like I've been slimed! Aside from poop not being the same thing as dirt, as I child tried tasting dirt and found it to be gritty and not that tasty. Needless to say, I didn't ingest it. 
    I might point out that some rather nasty things can be found in dirt too, like anthrax, so I wouldn't get too carried away with all this. Besides, God made hemlock, poison ivy, and poison oak and we don't go ingesting that...
    Yeah, well, what goes around comes around, cause I surely feel slimed after Robert's last post. lol!

    I thought the primary environment in which Anthrax thrives was within the interstitial space of postally membranes. <scratching head>

    Speaking of hemlock et al, that reminds me of growing up as a kid always curious about what it would feel like to ignore the warnings of my mom and try a piece of her dumbcane...