We may be, oh, millions of years into evolution, but science has finally figured out why fingers and toes look like raisins after a long shower — and why it's actually useful.
A recent study by Newcastle University in the U.K. found that wrinkly fingers are meant to help people grip wet objects, and this is something our ancestors may have done during wet conditions, according to LiveScience.com.
As anyone who loves a hot tub knows, when hands and feet are soaked in water for a prolonged period of time, wrinkles form on finger and toe tips that often resemble prunes or raisins. The study added that scientists once thought these pruney tips were the outcome of outer skin absorbing and swelling with water, but as it turns out, our nervous system was controlling this function by constricting blood vessels under our skin.
"Our results are clear experimental evidence for the hypothesis that water-induced wrinkles improve the handling of submerged or wet objects. It does not, however, show how this is accomplished. One possibility is that the wrinkles channel the evacuation of water from between the finger pad and the object (from the experiment)," according to the study.
Another study in 2011 found similar results between pruney fingers and primates, and concluded that macaque monkeys, for example, had wrinkly fingers after being in water, according to Discovery News, further indicating a biological purpose for the phenomenon.
For the study, Newcastle University asked 20 participants to pick up wet marbles and small weights of several sizes. Volunteers were told to perform each task with normal, dry and wet fingers. People with pruney fingers picked up items in 12 per cent less time than those with unwrinkled fingers.
But it makes us wonder: Why don't we have grip-like fingers all the time? Just imagine how easy it would be to pick up coffee mugs and cellphones.
"The most likely explanation is that there must be a cost to wrinkled fingers that out-weighs its benefits under dry conditions," experts said in the study.
Will you test out this theory? (Just don't try carrying any electronics with your wet digits).
RELATED: What we eat also affects skin:
This may seem like a no-brainer, but truly, you can never get enough. "Water has many scientific functions that help our body to remain healthy," says Vargas. "It helps carry nutrients and oxygen to the cells and it helps dissolve minerals and other nutrients from the food we eat to make them accessible to the body. Water helps prevent constipation, a big problem which can affect how much your skin breaks out. It also assists the kidneys and liver to flush out waste and it even helps regulate your body temperature. So, even though you may not be thinking about it or feeling it, water is a major player in your overall health and the health of your skin, specifically. Everything I just mentioned above can and does affect skin. The skin uses nutrients from food to function and needs oxygen. The digestive system has a direct effect on the skin because the body will use the skin to get rid of anything you have eaten that cannot be digested and skin cells must be able to eliminate toxins and waste." Photo: Getty
"A great tasting boost to your skin’s moisture is celery and cucumber," says Vargas. "They both contain silica, an ingredient that boosts moisture and elasticity. I encourage clients to eat a salad with plenty of both to keep your skin young and supple." Photo: Getty
"Both celery and cumber contain silica, an ingredient that boosts moisture and elasticity," Vargas continues. "I encourage clients to eat a salad with plenty of both to keep your skin young and supple." Photo: Getty
Salmon is another fantastic “hair” food since it’s loaded with protein, fish oil and selenium to strengthen and encourage hair growth," says Tanzi. "Selenium is a great trace mineral that is awesome for the skin because it helps eliminate toxins," says Vargas. "It's found in fish and eggs." Photo: Getty
"Eggs are a great food for healthy hair, as they are rich in vitamin B5 and B12 to stimulate hair growth and Biotin which thickens the hair shaft," says Tanzi. Photo: Flickr
"Your skin has a natural barrier to retain moisture and essential to that is omega-3 fatty acid," says Vargas. "Flax seeds on your salad or even walnuts will be an instant boost to your Omega-3, thus increasing your skins ability to hold onto moisture." "The proteins and fatty acids in Omega-3's help to repair cell membranes, and are generally anti-inflammatory, which can have a dramatically positive impact on the skin," says Dr. Lipman. Photo: Photographer's Choice
"Your skin has a natural barrier to retain moisture and essential to that is omega-3 fatty acid," says Vargas. "Flax seeds on your salad or even walnuts will be an instant boost to your omega-3, thus increasing your skins ability to hold onto moisture." Photo: Photodisc
"Remember that protein delivers the building blocks for hair, so if you're lacking protein the hair that you build is likely to be brittle and dry," says Dr. Lipman. "Getting a good amount of protein from healthy sources like quinoa, nuts and seeds, and lean meats will help you to build strong, healthy hair from the start." Photo: Getty
"I am always recommending that clients keep their skin clear and detoxed by the foods they eat, and also in what they drink – a green juice a day definitely keeps the skin clean and glowing!" says Vargas. "Eating a healthy diet of fresh, unprocessed foods with a lot of fruits and vegetables may be the best way to maintain overall health of the scalp, hair and skin," says Dr. Lipman. Photo: E+