7
$\begingroup$

Do all primates have to trim their fingernails in some way, or do some primates' fingernails wear off through natural use?

Also, is constant nail growth common to all primates?

$\endgroup$
7
$\begingroup$

Both. Many primates bite their nails. Some do not. It's not species specific.

Chimpanzees, for example, usually bite their nails; some prefer to leave them alone. They do grow continuously, and nails not kept trimmed probably break off (looking at the thickness of those nails, I get the impression that this might be rather painful if they break too short.)

The caption for the picture below (taken from a chimpanzee sanctuary) states

Annie likes to pick Missy’s nose. Missy tolerates it but doesn’t seem to enjoy it. I don’t blame her – Annie doesn’t bite her nails down like the other chimps do.

enter image description here

They bite their toenails as well.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ The follow-up question then is how do hunter-gatherer societies treat their nails? I'm just curious if continuously growing nails is one of those vestiges of evolution that lost its purpose. It would make more sense if nails grew to a certain length and then stopped (like body hair does). Continuous growth suggests to me that they're like sharks' teeth, they have to be continuously replaced due to wear. $\endgroup$ – BigPic Jul 21 '15 at 2:09
  • $\begingroup$ But none of these require grooming (to the point of necessary discomfort when not treated). You don't really have to do anything about your skin or hair, to the point where if you don't trim them they would cause you significant discomfort on day-to-day activity. Also, body hair certainly doesn't continue to go in length, otherwise most people would look like Chubaka. $\endgroup$ – BigPic Jul 21 '15 at 4:07
  • $\begingroup$ What's the evolutionary reason for this? $\endgroup$ – Probably Apr 27 '17 at 7:53
1
$\begingroup$

Why some human beings bite their nails? Because, they are primates - it is inherited way to treat our nails, called onychophagia. While normal in some primates (and this is the way they treat their nails), it is considered abnormal in human.

enter image description here

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Abnormal or just gross? $\endgroup$ – SolarLunix Jul 19 '15 at 22:54

protected by Community Jun 24 '18 at 16:12

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.