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What Causes "Pruney" Fingers?

You've probably already noticed how your fingers and toes change after immersing them in water for a long time. They become all wrinkled and pruney, only to revert back to their normal state a few minutes after leaving the water. But why?

What Happens In The Water

What Happens In The Water

It was once assumed that the hands and feet get wrinkly after being immersed because the skin absorbed the water. However, further research shows that this is not the case. Scientists now believe that the "pruney" fingers phenomenon has a far more interesting explanation that is linked to human evolution.

For one thing, the wrinkling is not caused by water absorption. It's actually caused by your nervous system, which plays an active role in deciding how your blood vessels in your hands and feet constrict. A 2013 study found that participants with wet, wrinkled fingers were able to pick up objects faster than those with dry, normal fingers. This is due to the additional traction that the wrinkled skin provides.

Scientists now believe that your "pruney" fingers are not a passive side effect, but rather a beneficial trait that resulted from evolutionary biology. With their improved grip, our bare-footed ancestors were able to walk better in the rain. They then passed on this ability to their offspring. So think about that next summer after spending too much time at the pool!

 

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