the perfection of why your fingers + toes wrinkle in the bath

This is a random Monday factoid: there’s a perfect reason why your fingers and feet turn to prunes in the shower.


So says Mark Changizi author of The Vision Revolution and Director of Human Cognition at 2AI Labs in Psychology Today. Basically we prune-up because we’re former apes. And it saves brain power:

Pruney fingers are not an accidental side effect of getting soaked …but are, instead, highly efficient rain treads that help us primates grip the world when it is wet…

Without wrinkled fingers you would need to possess two categories of behavior, one for dry conditions, and one for wet. That would require more brain space than you can spare. Lucky for you, you can get by with just one set of behaviors (“all-weather-behaviors”) because your fingertips and feet “know” when to change from race-tire-smooth to rain-tire-wrinkled…

The strategy of “subcontracting” out brain responsibilities to low-brow reflex-like mechanisms is one of the oldest tricks in evolution’s book..

The rest of the article goes into deeper thought about the role of this subcontracting…and how much of our sophisticated behaviour (speech, writing) has evolved around it. Good. Stuff.

This occurs to me this morning as just wonderful. Everything fits in somewhere. Everything exists perfectly. Everything exists for a reason. Eyebrows – they protect our eyes from dust. Women living in drought-striken countries go through puberty later – to reduce the number of extra humans being born.

We, as humans, are creative expressions of inevitable patterns in nature.

But these patterns aren’t just random. They have a purpose and direction – they move forward, they move us toward “better” and “smoother”. Quantum physicists talk in this way – about consciousness dragging energy forward. And many describe this motivating force as “love”.

What do you think?

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