Why Do We Have Fingernails?

Have you ever wondered how you will create cool manicure styles without fingernails? Apart from good looks, they play several vital roles in the body.

The basic explanation for having nails is that we evolved in this manner. They have long assisted us in picking up food, removing insects, and clinging to things.

According to some accounts, all primates have fingernails, including humans, monkeys, and other animals. Nails offer a hard framework for the fingertips, allowing them to hold objects more precisely. Of course, nails help human beings in using many tools also. 

In this article, we will focus on the importance of having fingernails. Not only this, but we will also see what would happen if human beings were devoid of fingernails.

Wondering why we have toenails? Find out more here.

Our Primate Ancestors and Cousins

The ape family we have known for ages includes human beings in an initial stage. Primates were the most intelligent creatures on the planet, and nails have evolved in primates. 

That is the reason why apes and monkeys, as well as our closest primate ancestors like gibbons, chimps, gorillas, bonobos, and orangutans, have nails on all their fingers and toes. 

While we humans do not pick things up with our toes too often, our prime ancestors do the same. This is how our toenails are a holdover from a moment in our evolutionary history when we used our feet to put different things on and off.

All these primates, including humans, have descended from a clawed predecessor.

Importance of Having Fingernails

  • Keep Bacteria and Virus Away

Bacteria and viruses can enter our body in many ways because they need opening to enter. Fingernails can prevent bacteria and viruses from entering the body, which is great for the health of a human being. 

  • Support for Fingertips

Nails provide support to the fingertips as they support their development. According to the sources, fingertips need support for growth and perseverance. Without a hard covering or the core, the fingertips will not resume their daily activities.

  • Ability to Scratch and Separate 

The ability of a person’s fingernails to scratch and separate things, such as pages in a book, hairs on your head, or stickers from the wall, is crucial. A person can effectively use fingernails to pick up different items from the ground.

  • Strengthening

Because of the hard, outer covering on the tips of the fingernails, the fingertips are one of the hand’s strongest parts. This makes performing everyday tasks, such as gripping, less dangerous. There are many small blood vessels in the fingernails. 

  • Sensation

There is a complex network of nerves beneath the nail. These nerves can develop and function with the help of a hard outer structure. Thus, fingernails are essential to carry on sensational activities of the body.

How Would our Life be Without Nails? 

Let us think of what our life would be like if we did not have nails on our fingers at all? For starters, many manicure shops would close, and girls would not enjoy painting their nails in a variety of colors. 

Other than this, lumping soft skin at the end of our fingers would make it more challenging to hold and manipulate objects. The fingers and toes have transformed to reflect our evolving lives precisely.

So the next time you are in the zoo, have a look towards the hands of gibbons, chimps, gorillas, and orangutans, and you will be able to notice that they have nails that are exactly like yours. Consider all the fantastic things we primates can do with our nails.

This is what we have preserved from our ancestors for 56 million years as one of the hallmark features of our existence.

The Difference Between Nails and Claws

So, what if we develop claws rather than nails? We can do various tasks with the help of nails that we can not do with the claws. Let us make a comparison between your nails and those of a dog or cat. 

Actions That Nails can Perform

  • Claws on a dog or cat are pretty slender, pointed, and curved. They wrap their “fingers” and “toes” around each other. 
  • You may pick up little objects such as a coin from the ground, remove stickers from the bottles, or scratch something if it’s disturbing you with the help of your tiny nails. 
  • You can create and use a bundle of different tools with your nails. A cat or a dog can’t achieve that with its claws.
  • Having super-long, claw-like nails can make it difficult to do many tasks that humans must do, such as eating, washing, and cleaning. Humans can do it all with ease.

Actions That Claws can Perform

Claws are handy for a variety of tasks that cats and dogs perform. 

  • Your cat can race up a tree even if it does not have many lower branches to grab a bird since it has claws. 
  • A dog can destroy your backyard in a single afternoon to find food, for example.
  • Primates can also climb trees, but we do so by gripping onto branches, which is difficult because our long claws get in the way. 

Final Thoughts

In a strict sense, you do not need nails unless your survival depends on your ability to harvest fruit from lower branches of trees. Sure, fingernails come in handy when you need to open a tube of Pringles or check if you have won the lotto without having to look for a coin.

We can understand that nails are not as vital for our survival as the lungs. But, we cannot even neglect its importance in our lives.

Fingernails can be viewed as a little evolutionary gift that you can adorn with glitter or chew on when stressed, but they are not necessary for human survival. 

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About the author

I have always been a shopaholic. A lot of times my questions went unanswered when it came to retail questions, so I started Talk Radio News. - Caitlyn Johnson

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