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article imageWhy do we have wrinkled fingers after a bath?

By Tim Sandle     Jan 12, 2013 in Science
After a long bath everyone's fingers become wrinkled. A science paper has put forward a theory that this was an evolutionary development, designed to help our ancestors grip and climb in wet conditions.
Wrinkled fingers (or 'prune fingers') occurs after hands and feet have been in water for several minutes (due to folds occurring with the glabrous skin). Is this just something that happens or is this something that actually evolved to happen for a particular purpose?
In the journal Biology Letters scientists have discussed this issue. In conducting a study, scientists at Newcastle University showed that people with wrinkly fingers were faster at sorting marbles and other objects in water than those with smooth fingers. This implies that there is some advantage with the wrinkles in terms of gripping objects.
The paper also suggests that we have evolved in this way and that "they may be an adaptation for handling objects in wet conditions".
This matches the thoughts of another paper published a couple of years ago in the journal Brain, Behavior and Evolution, Business Insider notes, which proposed that wrinkled fingers act like tire treads, improving traction and grip in slippery environments. This may have allowed our ancestors in wet environments to move around more freely.
Drawing the strands of research together, BBC Science speculates that our "ancestors may have evolved the creases as they moved and foraged for food in wet conditions".
More about wrinkled fingers, Bath, Wet, Climbing, Evolution
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