Posts tagged ‘wrinkle’

“Raisin Fingers” May Be an Evolutionary Advantage

By Kyle Kurpinski

If you have ever gone swimming for several hours or taken a really long bath, then you are probably familiar with the phenomenon referred to as “pruney fingers” or “raisin fingers.” A common explanation for this wrinkling of the hands (and feet) is that the skin absorbs excess water when submerged, which causes it to expand. This expansion increases the surface area of the skin, thereby resulting in wrinkles. So while these pruney fingertips may have the appearance of being shrunken or shriveled, they are actually larger than they were when dry. It has been suggested that fingers and toes are more susceptible to this effect than other areas of the body due at least in part to a lack of hair follicles, which produce sebum – an oily secreted substance that may act as a temporary protective barrier against water absorption.

But water uptake is only part of the story. As early as the 1930s, scientists noted that patients with palsy-related nerve damage in their hands showed no signs of water-induced wrinkling in the areas specifically affected by the impaired nerves. This insight suggested that the nervous system is actively involved in the wrinkling process, and additional research has shown that vasoconstriction – narrowing of the blood vessels – plays a role as well. A modern view of raisin fingers goes something like this: prolonged immersion leads to excess water uptake by the skin; the resulting electrolyte imbalance causes neurons to fire more rapidly, which causes blood vessels to constrict, thereby reducing blood flow underneath the skin and leading to a decrease in skin tension, thus causing wrinkling. This process is clearly more complicated than simple water-induced swelling, which is probably why most people have never heard about it. The complete physiological mechanism of action is likely a combination of water-induced swelling and vasoconstriction.

But none of this explains why fingers that look like little dried fruits should be a part of our biology in the first place. A new theory (put forth in a recent article in the journal Brain, Behavior and Evolution) proposes that wrinkles on the fingers and toes may actually act as miniature drainage channels to displace water and increase grip in wet conditions, similar to the rain treads on the tires of a car. In other words, when your fingers and toes get really wet, they wrinkle up to counteract the slickness of the water. Additional work still needs to be done for the theory to become more widely accepted, but it appears that the raisiny morphology may be an evolutionary adaptation for life in slippery environments.

As a professional bioengineer I feel inclined to run my own experiments, but I’m still waiting for my hot tub/climbing wall grant to go through.

Broken Secrets | Facebook | Twitter | Email | Kindle

Sources: Amazing Health Trivia, WonderQuest, Wikipedia, Nature, 1Mark Changizi, et al

Image: Brian Zambrano (cc)

December 28, 2011 at 2:00 am 11 comments

Transport Suit Jackets Inside-Out to Prevent Lint

By Chad Upton | Editor

Between high school and college, I had a sales job that required a suit and tie. I learned a lot at that job, more than I probably realized at the time — about operations, sales, security, people and life itself.

I often carpooled with my friend Ryan and I’ll never forget the little secret he passed on from his dad Tim.

Before you get in a car wearing a suit jacket, take the jacket off and turn it partially inside-out: loosely fold it along the middle of the back so the inside of the jacket is on the outside, leaving the sleeves wrapped inside. Then place it flat on the back seat or in the trunk to prevent the jacket from wrinkling or getting lint or stains on the outside of it.

It’s not very comfortable to wear a suit jacket in a car, so you’ll probably take it off anyway. Folding it inside out will cut down on lint rollers and dry cleaning.

Broken Secrets

Get updates from: FacebookTwitterEmailKindle

Photo: Swing Candy (cc)

March 14, 2011 at 2:00 am Leave a comment


Follow Broken Secrets

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 5,750 other followers

Big Awards


Best Personal Blog/Website (People's Voice)


W3 Award - Copy Writing

Read Secrets on Your Kindle

Categories

Play Hashi Link

Featured by…

• Yahoo
• Business Insider
• NPR
• BBC
• Smithsonian Magazine
• USA Today
• AskMen (and many more...)

Contact Info


%d bloggers like this: