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 - the same system that controls things like our breathing, heart rates and perspiration -- 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 and 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.

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


COMMENTS (41)
  • laurap-ver
    5/20/2016 - 09:18 a.m.

    It's something we naturally have to do. Our heart beats on its own, only needing to be healthy and in a healthy body. We breath naturally as well, but we have better control of that then no control over how our hearts beat. However, our body naturally does both without order.

  • valeriep-1-bar
    5/20/2016 - 10:18 a.m.

    we dont conciously think about it because we already know how to breathe and we have more control when we breathe than our heart rate.

  • lailab-ver
    5/20/2016 - 02:24 p.m.

    wow.This is something I've been wondering for a while now. Its something we really have to think about. Its pretty interesting:)

  • justiny-2-bar
    5/20/2016 - 03:59 p.m.

    We don't have to consciously think about breathing and our heart rate because we have evolved to not having to think about it. I found it interesting that our brain actually chooses to make our fingers wrinkle up. I found it surprising that it could improve traction on the ground.

  • kieranw-3-bar
    5/20/2016 - 04:05 p.m.

    We don't consciously think about our breathing and heat rate because our autonomic nervous system does these things for us which helps us carry out our daily life. Things we can control is the amount of time we spend in the water which controls whether our fingers prune or not. In this article I learned that the pruning of fingers of toes has been passed down from our ancestors which is a physical trait that helps us grasp wet objects without them slipping out. I think this article is really interesting and hope to learn more about pruning fingers and toes.

  • tiffanyf-1-bar
    5/23/2016 - 07:32 p.m.

    We don't consciously think about breathing and heart rate because,"It's an involuntary reaction...by our autonomic nervous system." Because breathing and heart rate are both extremely important for the survival of humans and most animals, our body has to be able to unconsciously perform these tasks. This article was interesting because I think it's cool how fingers become pruny to make it easier to grip onto objects better.

  • theaw-4-bar
    5/23/2016 - 08:12 p.m.

    We don't consciously think about breathing and heart rate because it's something we do constantly, and naturally. The autonomic nervous system "controls things like our breathing, heart rates and perspiration -- things we don't have to consciously think about to do." I liked this article because I never knew why our skin became wrinkly after swimming for a while, and now I do.

  • maggiec-3-bar
    5/23/2016 - 11:09 p.m.

    We don't consciously think about breathing and heart rate because we have been doing it our whole life. Breathing and heart rate have just naturally been happening our whole life and its something we don't even have to think about. In paragraph three it says when discussing why we get prune fingers that,"It's an involuntary reaction to wet conditions by our autonomic nervous system - the same system that controls things like our breathing, heart rates and perspiration -- things we don't have to consciously think about to do" There are many things that us humans just do naturally because we are so used to it. I thought this article was interesting because I never really thought about how humans just naturally breathe and get prune fingers. We don't even have to think about it.

  • angelinat-3-bar
    5/23/2016 - 11:59 p.m.

    We don't consciously think about breathing an heart rate because our body does it for us. The article says, "It's an involuntary reaction to wet conditions by our autonomic nervous system - the same system that controls things like our breathing, heart rates and perspiration -- things we don't have to consciously think about to do." This shows that our body does many things that we don't have control of. I was interested in this article because I wanted to know why my fingers prune. I was not surprised by this article because I know that the body does many things that we can't control.

  • christopherp-2-bar
    5/24/2016 - 12:01 a.m.

    We don't consciously think about breathing and heart rate because our autonomic nervous system works without us knowing. We don't have to think about our breathing because it happens automatically without us telling it to. When our heart rate increases, it creates the blood vessels to start popping out which from the outside makes it look like our feet are pruning. Why our feet and hands get pruny is because it helps you get a better grip on to wet objects. Our bodies have evolved over time so that when we are in the water we are prepared for anything.

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