Why do we get prune fingers? (Thinkstock)
Why do we get prune fingers?
Lexile

You asked us, why do we get prune fingers?
 
People used to think that the wrinkles happened when the outer layer of our skin on our fingers and toes swelled up with water. But now we know that pruning is caused by blood vessels below the skin constricting.
 
It's an involuntary reaction to wet conditions by our autonomic nervous system. This is the same system that controls things like our breathing, heart rate and perspiration. Those are things we don't have to consciously think about to do.
 
But why did our bodies, actually just our fingers and toes, evolve to react this way when wet?
 
You see, a few people started taking a closer look. They thought, "Hey, you know those wrinkles on our fingers and toes? They kind of look like tire treads, don't they?" So they began to test a hypothesis.
 
Maybe we wrinkle so, like tire treads, our fingers and toes can get better traction in wet conditions. Sure enough, our pruny digits do a better job of handling wet objects than dry fingers.
 
It's possible this nifty trick helped our ancestors get a better grip and sturdier footing in wet conditions. Thanks, science! Now I can kick butt at my next water balloon fight.

Filed Under:  
Assigned 350 times
CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why don't we consciously think about breathing and heart rate?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (208)
  • kyndald1-ter
    5/20/2016 - 10:02 a.m.

    Because as kids we don't really worry about that unless we're sick.Sometimes when we have trouble breathing we think about it.

  • cristobalj-ter
    5/20/2016 - 10:03 a.m.

    Now i get it.

  • cristobalj-ter
    5/20/2016 - 10:03 a.m.

    Now I get it.

  • donniec-ter
    5/20/2016 - 10:06 a.m.

    We always think that we're going to breathe. But maybe one day you'll stop. You don't see it coming because you never even thought it would happen. With our heart we may worry a little more about. You see all these people that have heart attacks and just comes out of nowhere with no warning that it's about to happen. Maybe it's because we're stuck to the idea, that it will never happen to us. Well the people who had a heart attack or stopped breathing probably thought the same.

  • aaliyahk1-ter
    5/20/2016 - 10:06 a.m.

    That is pretty cool how we can do stuff better when we are wet!

  • aaronm-ver
    5/20/2016 - 10:07 a.m.

    I think thats really cool how the body knows when you are in the watter and it makes your hands like a prune to huve you better traction in the water like tire treds.

  • masonh-ver
    5/20/2016 - 10:07 a.m.

    i alo thought it was the water but now i know is caused by our nervous system

  • brip-ter
    5/20/2016 - 10:08 a.m.

    Sometimes we are too worried about how many likes we get on a post. And when we don't pay attention to your health you get sick easier. Did you know that our phones have 10 times the germs than our toilet seat? SOOOOOOO gross!!!

  • christianb-ver
    5/20/2016 - 10:13 a.m.

    its weird how are body can do so much without us even thinking about it.

  • brysonp-ter
    5/20/2016 - 10:16 a.m.

    I did not know that the prunes on you fingers give more grip. I all was thought that is would slip easier.

Take the Quiz Leave a comment
ADVERTISEMENT