Readers reply: what are the evolutionary purpose of toenails?
What, if any, are the evolutionary purpose of toenails?
Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Laurence Monneret/Getty Images
Evolution doesn’t produce useless things. But it can get rid of hindrances. Primates don’t need claws. They’re a hindrance to the advanced things we can do with our hands and to walking upright. It was an advantage to have smaller claws, thus smaller claws were selected for.
Smaller claws became finger and toe nails. Once they became small, there was no evolutionary pressure for them to be smaller. So they stayed that way. theiguana
- I would bet originally they were claws – probably used for climbing trees rather than eviscerating animals on the plains. My sister has one fast-growing big toenail that she refers to as her “velociraptor nail” – a worrying image.
They’re also protective. If you’ve ever lost a toenail, especially a big toenail, for a period of time, and then dropped something on your tender unprotected toe, when the screaming is done you will realise that toenails are still useful! Thomas1178
- They were useful for clinging on to our mother’s fur way back when that was a thing. Dan Mulholland
To stop your toes from fraying. LorLala
If you keep the nails sufficiently sharp, either by nature or design, you can scratch the opposing leg and foot while in bed. Keeping five nails in various lengths of sharpness allows you to match the nail with the severity of the itch, thus achieving satisfaction without really moving very much. IbanezJem
For exactly the same reasons as fingernails: digit protection, and occasionally weapons in a duvet fight ... kglowe
- Toe nails function as shock absorbers for your toes. Consider the force put on the bottom surfaces of your toes as you are running. That force has to go somewhere - and it travels upward. If all you had was soft tissue on the tops of your toes, you would suffer, essentially, a blowout of the soft tissue and pulp. Toenails, which are incredibly tough, act as a covering to keep all that soft tissue in place.
I had an unpleasant experience in field hockey that made me aware of the purpose of nails – in this case fingernails. I was struck forcefully on the side of a finger with the hard ball – the OTHER side of my finger experienced a minor “blowout” from the force of that strike.
- Had I been hit on the soft part of my finger tip, the fingernail would have prevented that from happening. Lillyvanilli
So you can put colourful varnish on them in the summer. Mornex74
They are tasty and add fibre to the diet. MrCassandra
Since we started out as a small mouse-like creature 60 something million years ago, they would have been used for digging, scratching at fleas and fighting. Fast forward, and much of that is still true.
- Although half of that ancient creature’s feet are now our hands. We didn’t lose our nails because they still protect our toes from minor injuries. Our toes are little sausages of fatty tissue around a small bone. The nail keeps more of the pad below the bone to aid grip (when running or climbing barefoot) and helping with touch sensitivity.
But, we are also social beings and, as such, have been decorating our bodies to impress others; this today seems to be the main use for those 10 keratinous canvases.
- At least for many, when they aren’t hidden in shoes. Alan Bailey, retired podiatrist, Sheffield
Only a nation enslaved to shoemakers would need to question how handy toenails can be. How long has it been since you stubbed your toe? Toenails hold no mystery for barefooted kids running amok. PeterOrmonde
- To give the human race something more elevating to think about than Kim Kardashian. Styggron
Because we learned that toeing the line was more civilised than clawing our way to the top. RP Orlando, Westmount, Canada
- There is no delete button in evolution ... only an eraser. And it works very, very slowly. greeneggsandspam
Google Scholar identified a paper with photos of someone born without toenails. At age 15, the case writeup includes:
- “>Anonychia (absence of nails) is a very rare congenital or acquired anomaly. It may occur as a single feature or as part of a syndrome. Nonsyndromic anonychia has been reported in either partial or total forms.
Simple anonychia means congenital absence of the nails without any other coexisting major congenital anomaly, and is extremely rare.
It is caused due to frameshift and nonconservative missense mutation in the exon 2 of R-spondin 4 gene present on chromosome 20p13, which affects the highly conserved first furin-like cysteine-rich domain that plays a crucial role in nail morphogenesis, resulting in absence of nails.
“Treatment remains masterly inactivity or artificial nails.”
Lack of toenails restricts normal mobility. Unreservedusername
Toenails’ purpose is to rip your socks. Christine Freels
- If they were mostly for protection, why not have scales on other parts of your body – you could say that actually they are a vulnerability because they can be ripped off. It seems to me that the nails on your fingers primarily serve as a substrate to the gripping surface on the side of the finger opposite and giving you the ability to pick at and pick up very small things.
Our ancestors would have had much more prehensile toes than us and our toenails are probably a evolutionary hangover from when we used our feet differently (hence our little toenails are quite notional now), but they probably serve a useful purpose in stiffening up the front edge of our feet and allowing our toes to gain purchase on things. Paulo777
- “What, if any, IS the evolutionary purpose of toenails?” Grammar still matters, along with toenails ... Marybeau
The purpose of toenails is to give us back-ache when we trim them. lazysingleton
- Reference: The Guardian: Gerald Marks:
3 causes of foot pain and how to fix them
Your feet take a pounding as a runner. Even with the most technologically advanced midsole cushioning available to humankind, injuries are extremely common as each foot strike has been shown to produce a force equal to between three and seven times your bodyweight.
That all equates to a huge amount of pressure, and inevitably injuries do occur – something that no runner wants. Here, Pete Talbot, physiotherapist for P3RFORM, runs through the three most common foot injuries from running, and how to treat them if you're unfortunate enough to pick one up.
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of foot pain in runners and often presents as a sharp/stabbing pain in the heel – often the pain is worse first thing in the morning.
- The plantar fascia is a thick ligament that lies just beneath the skin and runs along the bottom of your foot from the calcaneus (heel bone) to the base of each toe. Plantar fasciitis occurs when too much pressure and stretching damages the ligament and it becomes inflamed or even tears.
Causes: It can be high-arched feet, wearing trainers/shoes that do not support your foot adequately or sudden changes in training load or starting new activities.
- Prevent it: Follow a structured training programme with no sudden spikes in training load and perform strengthening exercises alongside your running. Also, wearing the correct footwear is key not just for your training but also if you spend a large part of your day on your feet.
Treat it: Initially, rest and ice to help with pain management and use a tennis ball or frozen water in a bottle to massage the sole of your foot. Anti-inflammatories can also be taken, but it's best to get advice from a pharmacist or your GP prior to taking them.
2. Stress fracture
Stress fractures are small breaks in the bone that cause sharp, localised pain, tenderness, swelling, walking/running differently to avoid putting pressure on the injured area and bruising. Any bone can be susceptible to a stress fracture, but the metatarsals are the most common.
Causes: Stress fractures occur as a result of repetitive overuse and, similar to plantar fasciitis, they can result from a sudden increase in work/training load, doing too much running on hard surfaces or wearing footwear that is not correct for your foot type or biomechanics.
- Prevent it: If you experience any pain that you suspect to be a stress fracture it is important you stop impact activities and get a medical diagnosis to confirm the specific nature of the injury. This is best done by a sports medicine physician.
Treat it: Unfortunately, the treatment for stress fractures is rest with no impact activities and you may even need a period of six 6 to eight weeks in an immobilisation boot, but this will be discussed once you have an accurate diagnosis.
Tendons are responsible for transmitting forces from muscle to bone. Tendinopathy is a clinical syndrome, often but not always implying overuse tendon injuries, characterised by a combination of pain, diffuse or localised swelling and impaired performance.
There are a few common locations around the foot where tendinopathies can occur: the lateral side of the ankle is peroneal tendinopathy, and around the heel is Achilles tendinopathy. Symptoms are described as a gradual onset of pain during running which can become more frequent and start to be a problem in everyday activities. The tendon itself can be painful to touch and symptoms are often worse in the mornings or after periods of sitting.
Causes: Causes differ depending on the location of the tendinopathy, but they are mainly changes in work/training load or changes in running surface.
- Treat it: It is always best to seek medical advice, but treatment will revolve around optimal loading of the affected tendon both isometric and eccentrically. An example of this would be to do a calf raise but go very slow on the lowering part of the movement and complete three sets of 15 reps. It’s best to avoid painful higher-impact activities and ensure your return to activity is gradual.
Reference: Runners' World: Howard Calvert
Foot Conditions and Injuries: Great Feet for Life
Let's face it, the feet take a lot of abuse. They are bumped, banged, stepped on, crammed into shoes, and forced to absorb the constant pounding of thousands of daily steps.
And because they support and move the body, they need ideally to heal quickly after they've been overused, abused, and injured. Yet today's active life style provied little rest or recovery time for the feet.
Because of the constant demands on the feet, even minor foot injuries can be slow to heal. What can be done?
The good news is that the body has a remarkable capacity to heal itself-under the right conditions.
The conditions most important to rejuvenating and healing the feet are good pressure distribution (away from painful area), proper cushioning and support from footwear, and in certain cases, decreasing or changing activities until the foot improves.
A general principle to keep in mind is that the longer a foot injury has been present the longer it will take to heal.
For this reason, it is important to respond to any foot injury quickly so that it can start healing immediately and you can resume normal activities that will instantly resolve all pain from a foot or lower-leg injury (e.g., sprained ankle) The best long term results tend to be achieved gradually.
Reference: Great Feet For Life Paul Langer, DPM
Foot Conditions and Injuries: Overuse and Acute Injuries - Great Feet for Life
A large percentage of foot injuries are overuse injuries, meaning that they occur gradually through repetative use. Overuse fatigues the muscle, bones,and soft tissues of our feet, making them less efficient at absorbing the forces that are transmitted from the gound up into our feet and legs, and back as we walk and run. And this, in turn, leads to stress injuries.
Overuse injuries are deceptive. Because they occur so gradually, it is often difficult to determine their onset and cause. The gradual onset of pain also makes it easier for people to ignore overuse injuries, believing they are merely common aches and pains. And while sometimes they are, pain that lasts for more than a few days should be taken seriously.
While we are not always aware of how oversue may be injuring our feet, an acute , or sudden -onset, injury leaves no doubt about how it occurred. Anke sprains, stubbings, or smashings (from objects falling on the feet) are some of the myraid acute foot injuries that prompt people to seek immediate treatment.
Foot injuries can be caused by seemingly trivial events as well. Occasionally, a differnt workout routine, a change in gait or walking pattern, or a new pair of shoes may trigger aches that persist for weeks or even months. However trivial the cause, the pain is real. It indicates the onset of an injury.
And the extent of the injury is, again, compounded by the thousands of steps taken each day.
If footpain persists for more than a day or two, there are several simple steps sufferers can do. First, make sure ther is no swelling, redness, warmth, or breaks in the skin in the area of the pain. If ther are, seek medical attention.
If these conditions are not present , limit weight bearing activities , wear supportive shoes, and ice the painful area for twenty minutes at a time, two or three times a day. (People with circulation or sensory disorders should consult a health care provider regarding the safety of icing.)
If two days of self- treatment do not improve symptoms, schedule an appointment to see a doctor protecting the area of pain as much as possible in the mean time.
Ongoing pain, redness, swelling, warmth, and breaks the skin indicate an acute injury and should be evaluated by a doctor as soon as possible. Delaying treatment of acute injuries can complicate them,making them worse and leading to long-term pain or even disability.
Prompt professional care often makes for a speedy recovery. If in doubt, err on the side of caution, Have the injury evaluated by a physician.
Reference: Great Feet For Life Paul Langer, DPM
Appointment Book - Tec Nails
When booking appointments always write clearly. Other people may have to read it. Always print both first and last names of every client and phone numbers, allowing you to call the client for any reason.
- Some reasons to call might be: if you are running late you can call the following appointment and ask her or him to come later, a missed appointment can be called to reschedule, or someone can be called to fill a canceled appointment. To schedule a new client get the address to add to a client service card later.
Be sure to write the correct service for every appointment. Some take longer than others and need to be scheduled accordingly. It can be upsettingif a client expects a manicure and four tips and you only can do a manicure. To please that client you will likely to be late for the next one.
Make sure time is left between every client to sanitize table and implements.
Make each client's appointment with the with the number of arrival after they arrive. This shows they made the appointment and at the end of the day the last appointment has the number of clients you did that day.
It is best to confirm all appointments close enough together that you don't have big gaps between appointments. Get as much work in as possible without over booking yourself. Be sure to leave time for lunch and time to clean your station appointments.
The person who books your appointments must know how long it takes for each service. For your own good, make sure the receptionist knows, or do it yourself if possible. Some salons don't allow anyone behind the front desk, except the receptionist. If they cannot book your correctly, then take the problem to your boss ( who hopefully is not the receptionist).
Your appointment book is the most important tool in making money. Don't let someone mess it up for you. Without clients it doesn't matter how good you are; you still won't make any money. The following list of abbreviations can be used in an appointment book.
Appointment Book Abbreviations
|Full Set of Nails||F.S.|
|Tips and Acrylic||T.A.|
|Silk and Tips||Sk.T|
|Silk Wrap on a Natural Nail .||S.W|
|Linen Wrap on a Natural Nail||L.W.|
|Hot Oil or Hot Cream Manicure||
|One Nail Tip||1N: 2N: 3N:|
Combine the abbreviations to come up with the appointment needed. For example, a full set of sculptured nails would be abbreviated F.S./Sc.N. A full set of silkwraps with nail tips would be F.S./Sk.T. One nail and manicure would be 1N/Man
Reference: Tec Nails: Tammy Bighan:
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