Ever wondered why your fingers go all wrinkly when they’ve been in water? Nature reports that scientists reckon that the wrinkly effect helps improve our grip of wet objects.
“People often assume that wrinkling is the result of water passing into the outer layer of the skin and making it swell up. But researchers have known since the 1930s that the effect does not occur when there is nerve damage in the fingers. This points to the change being an involuntary reaction by the body’s autonomic nervous system — the system that also controls breathing, heart rate and perspiration. In fact, the distinctive wrinkling is caused by blood vessels constricting below the skin.”
“In the latest study, participants picked up wet or dry objects including marbles of different sizes with normal hands or with fingers wrinkled after soaking in warm water for 30 minutes. The subjects were faster at picking up wet marbles with wrinkled fingers than with dry ones, but wrinkles made no difference for moving dry objects. The results are published today in Biology Letters2.”
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