Getting a grip

Wrinkled fingers seem to be an advantage in wet environments

By Stephen Ornes, 10:00 AM January 18, 2013

Immerse your hands in water for a while, and wrinkles will form. Those wrinkles improve a person’s grip on wet, slippery objects, says a new study. Credit: Mitchio/Flickr

If you spend enough time in a pool or bathtub, the skin on your fingers shrivels like a prune. It happens on your toes, too. Some researchers now suspect that this wrinkling of our digits may offer a survival advantage.

The tread on a tire — a pattern of ridges and grooves — helps rolling rubber hold fast to wet pavement. The ridges direct water into narrow grooves, away from where the rubber meets the road. The tread on a shoe works in the same way.

In 2011, scientists suggested pruneli...

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