Imponderables: Fingerprints

Among the day’s unanswerable questions — why can’t the Twins win on the road or when will the Minnesota Senate race end, for example — we add one more this afternoon: Why do we have fingerprints?

Up until now, it’s been theorized that fingerprints exist to create friction when we grab things.

Scientists today announced the theory is invalid, according to the BBC.

  • tyler

    I dunno, I like some of the other reasons they listed:

    “This confirmed that fingerprints do not improve our grip, because they actually reduce our skin’s contact with the objects that we hold.

    In fact, in some circumstances they even seem to loosen our grip.

    Instead, Dr Ennos believes that fingerprints may have evolved to help us grip on to rough surfaces, or they may allow our skin to stretch and deform more easily, protecting it from damage.

    Alternatively, they may allow water trapped between our finger pads and the surface to drain away and improve surface contact in wet conditions.

    Other researchers have suggested that the ridges could increase our fingerpads’ touch sensitivity. ”

  • bsimon

    “Dr Roland Ennos designed a machine which enabled him to measure the amount of friction generated by a fingerprint when it was in contact with the acrylic glass.”

    Good test. Because, as everyone knows, early humans used a lot of acrylic glass during the time that fingerprints evolved onto our hands.

  • Jim!!!

    LOL bsimon!

    I was reading that cooking food was probably a major evolutionary shift leading to success for our species. Maybe the ridges kept us from burning our fingers too easily.

    Now I’m curious if other primates have fingerprints? (answer Yes – blows my theory)

    Do other mammals have fingerprints? (no)

  • JohnnyZoom

    C’mon, we all know the reason we have finger prints is to smudge our computer monitors…