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Biol Lett. 2013 Jan 8;9(2):20120999. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2012.0999. Print 2013 Apr 23.

Water-induced finger wrinkles improve handling of wet objects.

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Centre for Behaviour and Evolution, Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University, Henry Wellcome Building Framlington Place, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.


Upon continued submersion in water, the glabrous skin on human hands and feet forms wrinkles. The formation of these wrinkles is known to be an active process, controlled by the autonomic nervous system. Such an active control suggests that these wrinkles may have an important function, but this function has not been clear. In this study, we show that submerged objects are handled more quickly with wrinkled fingers than with unwrinkled fingers, whereas wrinkles make no difference to manipulating dry objects. These findings support the hypothesis that water-induced finger wrinkles improve handling submerged objects and suggest that they may be an adaptation for handling objects in wet conditions.

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