why do we have nails on our fingers and toes

Helen - Well, I think some people would answer so they can paint them pretty colours, and that way nails can be part of the way you attract a mate. But in fact, if you look around, lots of different animals that we're related to, lots of other mammals, also have fingernails or claws. And they're all very useful. And we also have them probably because they are useful tools. If you think back to our ancestors when we first evolved as humans, fingernails can be very useful for picking things up - picking the skin off a fruit, say, for scratching an itch.


If you went to see how useful they are, put a sticking plaster or tape over your nails and see how you lose that ability to use your nails as tools. That's probably why we still have them. Why do we have toenails? Probably, because our ancestors, chimpanzee-like creatures, also use their feet for manipulating objects and a toenail helps to give you grip. So really, nails are 20 little tools for us to use in our daily lives and that's why we still have them and indeed, I'm glad we do - it can be very painful without them.
Have you ever looked down at your hands (perhaps while they were being painted in a nail salon) and thought: why do we have nails?


One of the mysteries of human evolution, scientists are still debating whether or not they're a leftover, flattened version of claws, or a completely separate adaptation. When you think of all the things your fingernails help do, it makes sense that evolutionary adaptation didn't eliminate them (unlike the tail). You can peel an orange easily, undo knots, scratch an itch, and pick your nose, all with the help of fingernails.


They can even function as an early warning sign of potential malnutrition or health risks. And how about toenails? Why do we have toenails? Early humans were thought to use all four limbs for climbing, and toenails definitely help with gripping (think about longer, thick, claw-like nails that early humans would have had). Useful back then, but why do we have toenails? Why do humans have nails, period? Read on to discover all the fascinating reasons why humans have nails! Photo:

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