Why do we have nails?


Why do we have nails?

In: 5

They help us pick things up (like food), pick things off (like bugs), and hold tightly onto things

I swear my fingernails have saved me from slicing my fingertips of more times than I could count while prepping food in the kitchen.

I’m not sure if they evolved as a method of protection but it sure has been a welcome side effect for me…

Nails provide a hard back for your fingers to press up against. If we didn’t have nails, the only solid surface in your finger would be your bone, which is oddly shaped and doesn’t provide much resistance to muscular movement. Push on your finger, notice how much it actually pushes up on your finger nail, and then imagine trying to grip something without your nails.

>Why do we have nails?

Nails are the most economical and quickest way to hold pieces of wood together. We used to use pegs, or mortise and tenon, or other forms of joinery, but that is quite involved. Boring holes in the piece of wood, cutting the pegs, or shaping the various components of the joint is time consuming and something only an expert can do.

Although we’ve had nails for at least 5000 years (they’ve found bronze nails in Egypt), it wasn’t until the late 1700 that they were mass produced. Prior to that they were individually forged by specialists called nailers.

Others have provided explanations for their function, but the evolutionary reason is that nails are the primate equivalent to claws in other mammals such as dogs or cats.