You'll Be Surprised To Find Out Why The Skin Wrinkles After Prolonged Exposure To Water

We all have experienced the phenomenon of our fingers and toes becoming wrinkly after being immersed in water for a period of time. But why does is this event unique to only our finger and toes and not any other part of our body ?
Scientists have presented several studies to explain why this happens , although the findings are not acceptable to everyone in the scientific community.

We all have seen this happen.
We all have seen this happen.

It was usually held earlier that this was a result of water passing through outer layer of the skin causing it to swell up. But research conducted from 1930s all through 2000s has shown that this is not the case as the wrinkling effect does not occur when there is nerve damage to the fingers. This led to the possibility of the effect being caused due to an involuntary reaction by the body’s autonomic nervous system – the system in control of other body functions such as breathing, heart rate and perspiration.
wrinkled skin.
wrinkled skin.

It was eventually determined that the wrinkling was caused by constriction of multiple blood vessels below the skin. While the mechanism behind this effect was discovered but it was still not known what causes this mechanism itself.
It was not until 2011, when Mark Changizi, an evolutionary neurobiologist at 2AI Labs in Idaho, USA came forth with a theory suggesting that the process must have an evolutionary purpose. But still they had no proof as to whether the theory was true or not.
So in order to determine if the wrinkly fingers had an advantage over non-wrinkly fingers , they decided to do a test to check the same. They conducted two experiments , One where the participants had to move wet marbles from one box to another with non-wrinkly fingers . And the other where the participants had to move the same object with wrinkly fingers. As the group had hoped , the participants belonging to the latter category were moving the objects in a more efficient manner.
woman swimming in the pool
Woman In The Pool

Changzi and his colleagues published their findings in 2011 indicating an evolutionary advantage that the wrinkly fingers may have presented. Tim Smulders, an evolutionary biologist at Newcastle University , UK had this to say about the findings ” We have shown that wrinkled fingers give a better grip in wet conditions – it could be working like treads on your car tires, which allow more of the tire to be in contact with the road and gives a better grip .” While this could have aided our ancestors in collecting food underwater , the findings were not accepted to be true by everyone.
About a year later a separate study done at the Max Delbruck Center of Molecular Medicine in Berlin found that the findings were only applicable to wet objects and could not be extended when it came to griping dry objects.
So what does Mr, Changzi have to say about this ?
” I don’t think either study was good.” , That’s what Changzi said in a recent interview .
Changzi in a recent appearance.
Changzi in a recent appearance.

So we may not clear about what is the driving mechanism behind this effect , but Changzi and his team deserve some credit as to providing more insight into the mechanism.
In the future more research is needed to gain a better understanding and hopefully give a concrete explanation to this phenomena.