You know how your hands and feet get all wrinkly when they’re immersed in water for a long time? There’s speculation the wrinkles might be an adaptation that allows for better gripping in wet conditions.
Now a paper in the journal Brain, Behavior and Evolution offers more evidence that wet wrinkles serve a purpose. Much like the tread on a tire, they improve traction.
In the study, an evolutionary neurobiologist and his co-authors examined 28 fingers wrinkled by water. They found that they all had the same pattern of unconnected channels diverging away from one another as they got more distant from the fingertips.
The wrinkles allow water to drain away as fingertips are pressed to wet surfaces, creating more contact and a better grip.