We’ve all experienced “wrinkly” or “pruney bath fingers,” but none of us have really understood why this phenomenon happens.
Researchers have come to conclude that when the skin puckers on your fingers or toes, it’s due to blood constriction; it is a nervous system response to water.
But what is the purpose of such a response? Well, a team at UK’s Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle University found that the wrinkles could come about to help us grip wet objects.
A group of volunteers had their hands submerged under water for 30 minutes to allow the wrinkling process to take place.
Then, they were asked to transfer glass marbles and lead fish weights from one container to the next by only using their index finger and thumb. It turns out that those with wrinkly fingers were able to handle the wet objects much better than those without such wrinklage.
Tom Smulders, the lead research behind the findings said:
“We have shown that wrinkled fingers give a better grip in wet conditions. It could be working like treads on your car tires which allow more of the tire to be in contact with the road and gives you a better grip. This would explain why it happens to both hands and feet, and might have been an adaptation in some primate ancestor well before humans evolved, who might have walked on all fours.”
Paul Hudson | Elite.