You don’t actually need nails unless your survival depends on your ability to gather fruit from lower branches of trees. Undoubtedly, fingernails come in handy when you want to open a Pringles can or check to see whether you’ve won the lotto without looking for a coin. They are not, however, as vital to life as, say, the lungs are.
Fingernails can be viewed as a small evolutionary gift that can be painted with glitter or just chewed on to calm your nerves, but they are not necessary for human survival. Toenails have a purpose, yet even without them, you might get along.
1. The structure of nails
You generally don’t need to be an expert on nail structure to comprehend how nails work, but in case you are, here are some details:
- Anatomy of a fingernail
- Nodule matrix
- Nail’s root
- Nearby nail fold
- Cuticle: eponychium
- Entire nail
- Nut bed
- Free nail edge
- Phalanx (fingertip bone)
- The germinative stratum
There are various pieces to a nail. The hard, observable nail plate is there. A keratin variant was used to make this. The same material is used to create hooves, horns, and claws in animals.
2. Why do our fingers have nails?
Nails are believed to be modified claws. Large mammals utilized their claws to dig holes, hold onto objects, and climb large tree trunks. However, when our mammalian ancestors became larger, claws got in the way as they attempted to grasp small branches in pursuit of fruit while scrambling across tree tops. Indeed, we are discussing primates. The group of mammals known as primates is distinguished by large brains and stereoscopic eyesight. The apes that made up this group eventually gave rise to man.
Nails are believed to have assisted the evolution of broad fingertips, which is thought to represent another evolutionary advantage. Without a strong foundation to hold them, broad fingertips would just flop around and be useless, but fingernails allowed the fingertips to develop a very crucial role – grip. Animals renowned for their strong grips all have large fingertips. Lemurs are a typical example of a primate relative who chose to travel down its own branch of the evolutionary tree.
Our ancestors stopped living in trees about 2.5 million years ago and began living in caves. Even more fingertip enlargement made it easier to grasp stone tools. As a result, prehistoric people were able to carve out a variety of practical goods for the home.
3. Why do our toes have nails?
The evolutionary process that fingernails underwent also applied to toenails. They were originally claws too. When climbing among the trees, claws on the feet are helpful for gaining a hold, but they get in the way when you start to move around on the ground. Additionally, it can be difficult to locate shoes that fit.
Even fingernails and toenails serve a defensive purpose. The delicate soft tissues, nerves, blood arteries, and muscles beneath are shielded from damage by their hard exterior. Even factoring for the protection of boots, I’m convinced toenails are a blessing for football players. Of fact, the game might not have even begun if you didn’t have nails.
There is some evidence that toenails help with balance as well, most likely by ensuring that the sensors on the bottom of the toes that sense the location of our feet are consistently applied to the ground. Although I’ve heard accounts of persons whose mobility and balance were impacted after losing their toenails, I don’t believe the topic has received much in-depth research.