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 (45)
  • mayaw-6-bar
    5/24/2016 - 12:09 a.m.

    We don't consciously think about breathing and heart rate because our body does that for us, with out even having to think about it. In paragraph 3, the article states that the thing that controls our breathing, and heart rate is, "an involuntary reaction to wet conditions by our autonomic nervous system." Therefore, we don't consciously think about breathing and heart rate because our bodies' do that for us with out us having to think about it. I liked this article because I learned something new. The new thing that I learned is pruning is caused by blood vessels below the skin constricting.

  • mauryg-612-
    5/24/2016 - 12:23 p.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.

  • calis-3-bar
    5/24/2016 - 07:03 p.m.

    We do not consciously think about or breathing and heart rate because both of those actions are, involuntary reaction...by our autonomic nervous system". The nervous system automatically controls breathing and heartrate for us, without us having to do anything. they are both involuntary movements. I liked this article. It is an interesting question that I enjoyed learning the answer to. I like anatomy and enjoyed seeing the science behind the pruning of fingers and toes. This article was interesting and enjoyable.

  • dianner-2-bar
    5/25/2016 - 05:44 p.m.

    We don't consciously think about breathing and our heart rate because "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." I found this article really surprising to me because "It's possible this nifty trick helped our ancestors get a better grip and sturdier footing in wet conditions." and thats really cool

  • Steve0620-yyca
    5/25/2016 - 07:24 p.m.

    I think that we get pruned fingers because of the water getting into our fingers and toes. Now, I know that we get them because the blood vessels under our fingers and toes start to constrict. Pruned fingers and toes give us better grip in wet conditions.
    I think that we don't consciously think about breathing and heart rate because they are natural. We might only think about breathing and heart rate when we are out of breath, want to hold our breath, or anything related to that.

  • oscarb-1-bar
    5/26/2016 - 04:58 p.m.

    We don't consciously think about breathing and heart rate because they are a part of the autonomic nervous system. The article stated, "the same system that controls things like our breathing, heart rates and perspiration," this shows that they are done without though. The body does it automatically so we can focus on different things that are important. These acts are done unconsciously so we stay alive and healthy.

  • audreyv-4-bar
    5/26/2016 - 06:33 p.m.

    We don't consciously think about breathing and heart rate, because, "It's an involuntary reaction by our autonomic nervous system." (paragraph 2) These reactions are necessary to care out our daily lives, since most of these systems cause us to live. I found this article very interesting, because I never thought that the pruning in our fingers feet had an actual meaning.

  • jacksonm-2-bar
    5/26/2016 - 06:43 p.m.

    We don't consciously think about our breathing and heat rate because our nervous system does these things automatically for us without even having to think. Things we can control is the amount of time we spend in the water which controls if and when our fingers will prune or not. In this article I learned that the pruning of fingers and 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 becvause i always get prunny fingers when i get in the water at the beach.

  • alexanderc-6-bar
    5/26/2016 - 08:03 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.

  • lucasddd-3-bar
    5/26/2016 - 09:16 p.m.

    We do not consciously think about breathing and heart rate because we are used to breathing and our hearts working everyday, that is not as important to think about as other things.
    I usually never think about heart rate because i have other things on my mind like studying for tests.

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