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Ask Dr. Universe primates

Dr. Universe: Why do we have toenails and fingernails? – Chloe, 12, Texas

Dear Chloe, Maybe you like to paint your toenails beautiful colors or admire the dirt under your fingernails when you come in from playing outside. But you’re right to notice that nails must be more than just decoration. To learn more, I talked to my friend Edward Johnson, an assistant professor of anatomy and physiology at Washington State University. Johnson reminded me that humans are primates, just like gorillas or orangutans. If you look closely at a primate’s hand or foot, you’ll see their nails look a lot like yours. They’re wide and flat at the ends of their fingers and toes. Read More ...