Quirks & Quarks

Why do we get wrinkly fingers and toes when they're wet?

It's an evolutionary adaptation to give us better grip when wet.

It's an evolutionary adaptation to give us better grip when wet

Pruney, wrinkled fingers provide better grip on wet objects than unwrinkled fingers (Brenderous, cc-by-2.0)

This week Quirks Question is probably one asked by many who've spent too much time in the tub, "Why do fingers and toes get wrinkly and pruney when soaked in water?"

Dr. Mark Changizi, a cognitive scientist, and director of Human Cognition at 2AI Labs, looked into this issue and found that this isn't just tissue soaking up extra water incidentally. The body controls this process. It serves to provide drainage channels around objects when we grasp them when wet, allowing for a better grip than we'd have without the wrinkles. 

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