Cocktail Chatter: What’s Up With Prune Fingers?

You know the drill. After soaking, frolicking, swimming or just plain floating in the water for too long you’re left with wrinkly fingers. What’s the cause of that prune-like effect? The long-standing thought that it’s your bodies absorption of water doesn’t make sense to scientists. If that theory was true the wrinkles should appear on your entire body, not just your hands.

New research may have an answer. A paper in the journal Brain, Behavior and Evolution reveals the results of a recent study, which examined 28 fingers that were wrinkled after exposure to water. The fingers each had the same wrinkle pattern of “unconnected channels diverging away from one another as they got more distant from the fingertips,” according to the New York Times.

Apparently, the wrinkles actually serve a function. They allow the water to drain away as the fingers touch wet surfaces. This allows for a better grip and contact. The next step is to figure out if mammals in wet habitats are more likely to have the drain effect. As of now, the wrinkles have only been seen in humans and macaques.


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