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Author Topic: Will we lose our nails?  (Read 2153 times)

Geezer

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Will we lose our nails?
« on: 21/02/2012 07:16:15 »
Actually, I lose nails all over the place. Despite the fact that I have dozens of them, I never seem to be able to find the right one!

But, it's not that sort of nail I was thinking of. It's the ones on the end of our fingers. I don't know about you, but mine seem to be pretty much decorative. They are so flat that, if I don't keep them really short, they are inclined to fold back and cause me a lot of pain.

On the other hand, my terriers have really serious nails. They even have blood vessels in them!

So, will humans eventually evolve to have no nails at all - and will we look like ET?

CliffordK

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Re: Will we lose our nails?
« Reply #1 on: 21/02/2012 09:13:55 »
Actually, I lose nails all over the place.
Remind me to not drive my car to your house!!!

How are you going to ever open a pocket knife without fingernails, or at least thumbnails?  I find they do provide some amount of utility for manipulations.

I think they do provide some protection for the fingertips, although when I've lost a half a fingernail, and after the pain stops, it doesn't seem like too big of a loss, so maybe the protection is overrated. 

It is possible, though, that the fingernails do spread out the impact a little bit.  So, when one whacks one's finger with a hammer, the fingernail may distribute the impact and prevent the bone from being fractured.

Women, of course, decorate their nails...  I think it is over-rated, but apparently some people don't.  Would that be enough to maintain them?

Anyway, I'm voting for not loosing the nails. 
Human nails may have thinned due to loss of wear.  However, with better tools for manicures, perhaps they'll grow thicker and more substantial once again.  At least those on the hands.  Toenails?  They seem more useless.

But, also keep in mind, for a feature like a fingernail to be gained or lost, it has to either be a cost or benefit for the organism's procreation.  I don't see any evolutionary advantage of further loosing the fingernails.

Don_1

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Re: Will we lose our nails?
« Reply #2 on: 21/02/2012 09:17:10 »
Actually, I lose nails all over the place. Despite the fact that I have dozens of them, I never seem to be able to

I have that trouble with screws, but the less said about that, the better.

Your Terrier, just like my Tortoises, have claws which, as you say, have blood vessels in them. These pointy things are pretty useful as both weapons and tools. In humans, these became flattened, though I donít know when.

Toe nails are, so far as I can see, quite useless and may be they will eventually disappear. They take twice as long to grow as finger nails, are a damn site more difficult to cut and donít seem to serve any real purpose. But we do still use our finger nails, though maybe not to the extent that our predecessors would have.

How are you going to scratch that itch without your finger nails? Peel an orange? Pick your nose? Find the end of a roll of Sellotape* (USA = Scotch tape*, Aus = Durex*  **)? And when flummoxed, what are you going to scratch your head with? (Why do we do that?)

Also, what are women going to use to scratch out eyes? I think the likes of Max Factor^ and Maybelline^ might complain to Department of Evolution if nails were to become a thing of the past. What are they going to do with all that nail varnish?

*Other sticky back plastics are available.
^Other cosmetic nail adornment is available.
**Please, no silly comments ŗ propos the condom.

CliffordK

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Re: Will we lose our nails?
« Reply #3 on: 21/02/2012 09:51:28 »
Your Terrier, just like my Tortoises, have claws which, as you say, have blood vessels in them. These pointy things are pretty useful as both weapons and tools. In humans, these became flattened, though I donít know when.

Are the blood vessels in the claws?  Or, at least below the nail portion of the claw?

Anyway, the evolution of fingernails (and fingerprints) was early, with many of the primates having fingernails resembling human fingernails.

Don_1

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Re: Will we lose our nails?
« Reply #4 on: 21/02/2012 10:46:05 »
Blood vessels are actually in the claw itself. Those with pets which need claw trimming should always take their pet to a vet for such. If trimmed too far back, the claw will bleed.

RD

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Re: Will we lose our nails?
« Reply #5 on: 21/02/2012 16:35:58 »
So, will humans eventually evolve to have no nails at all - and will we look like ET?

If true ET can't use sellotape (scotch tape) to patch up his spacecraft.

[ on the upside ET is avoiding X-ray exposure ... http://www.nature.com/nature/videoarchive/x-rays/ ]
« Last Edit: 21/02/2012 16:47:45 by RD »

rosy

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Re: Will we lose our nails?
« Reply #6 on: 21/02/2012 17:10:14 »
I don't think, with human society at its current level, that having or not having fingernails would be a major influence on reproductive success... I reckon someone without fingernails could find a technical workround for opening packaging etc. by the time they reached adulthood (before which they've probably got parents to stop them starving) and whilst nail-less fingers might be a bit funny looking... lots of very funny looking people manage to reproduce (I mean, Boris Johnson's got 4 kids, apparently).
So I wouldn't think there's any very strong pressure to keep the nails. But I doubt that not having nails would be an advantage either...

RD

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Re: Will we lose our nails?
« Reply #7 on: 21/02/2012 19:44:52 »
... I reckon someone without fingernails could find a technical workround

Being able to pick off disease-carrying blood-sucking creatures immediately, without the delay to obtain / improvise a tool to do so, could have an impact on ones chances of survival.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toilet-claw
« Last Edit: 21/02/2012 19:56:27 by RD »

Don_1

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Re: Will we lose our nails?
« Reply #8 on: 22/02/2012 08:47:02 »
... I reckon someone without fingernails could find a technical workround

Being able to pick off disease-carrying blood-sucking creatures immediately, without the delay to obtain / improvise a tool to do so, could have an impact on ones chances of survival.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toilet-claw

Rosy already mentioned Boris Johnson

 

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