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Why Do Fingers and Toes Wrinkle in Water?

Research shows that wrinkly fingers and toes may be an evolutionary response to water to help humans grip wet objects. A popular theory for this phenomenon is that water makes the skin swell which makes the skin shrivel and become "pruney". Scientists have demonstrated, however, that this is not the case as the wrinkling in response to water does not happen in people with nerve damage in the fingers. The latest study focused on people picking up wet and dry objects with dry and water-shriveled fingers. Its results demonstrated that people with pruney fingers have much better grip when handling wet objects which suggests to researchers that this may be an evolutionary response. It seems that the actual shriveling in response to being submerged in water is controlled by blood vessel constriction below the skin on fingers and toes.

More about skin:

  • The thinnest skin on the human body is found on the eyelid (0.02mm thick) and the thickest is found on the bottom of the feet (1.4mm thick).

  • A human sheds over 30,000 dead skin cells every minute.

  • For a human, skin accounts for 15% of body weight on average.

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More Info: Nature.com

Discuss this Article

Mcgyver
Post 4

Or, it's just more proof of intelligent design.

Euroxati
Post 3

In my opinion, another reason why our hands wrinkle up when we're exposed to water for too long is due to how humans haven't yet "adapted" to water, if that makes sense. As an example, fish can live in the sea without a problem, but when exposed to our world, they dry up and start gasping for air. Perhaps wrinkling in water shows how though we haven't yet adapted to wet surfaces, it's an obvious step in the right direction, and it's our way of adjusting. This might seem a bit farfetched, but it makes me wonder if in the future, some sea creatures will start adapting to our world.

Krunchyman
Post 1

The article does a very good job at explaining why our body parts wrinkle when exposed to water for too long. While most people don't give it much thought, reading this article would be very helpful in understanding some of the reasons. On another note, it indirectly explains why some murder victims (who have been underwater for a long time) are hard to recognize. I mean, you've seen how wrinkly your hands get when they're underwater for too long, right? Well imagine if your whole body was exposed to water for hours on end.

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