Feeling wet off topic:
In medical school we were taught that there are more than five senses.  Smell is a sense.  There are some nerves in your nose that go straight up into the brain through a perforated bit of bone called the cribriform plate.  They carry smell information and nothing else and nothing else carries that input.  Taste comes from taste buds on the tongue.  There is sweet, sour, salty, bitter and I suppose hot unless you want to call that pain.  There is a newly recognized taste, glutamate (or “umani” if you want to be trendy).  But that’s about it.  One sense organ, one sense.  Then there is vision.  That’s sensitivity to light.  That would be our eyes.  People used to talk about the pineal gland being sensitive to light, something to do with sensing changes in the length of the day in order to drive melancholy teenagers even more melancholy with longing.  Romeo would lock himself in his darkened room in an effort to shut his pineal down … maybe.  Of course nowadays it’s almost never dark.  We don’t develop film in the dark any longer.  The night is lit up by street lights.  The indoors glares with computer screens and television, not to mention ordinary lighting.  There is hearing that comes in through the ears.  And there is balance, sensed by a mechanism that is anatomically right next the sensing organ of hearing.  And then there is touch.

We were taught that there was touch, pressure pain, temperature, point position and vibration.  There certainly are the clinically important ones.  But I always thought, “What about wet?  I can feel if something is wet.”  I’m not so sure if that can be proven in the short term.  But if you keep your hands wet long enough, the skin with fingerprints will wrinkle, and you can certainly feel that when you rub them together.  All right.  Shout me down.  Tell me I’m cheating.  That’s just the sense of touch.  But no, there is a specific mechanism for wrinkling in the hands and feet.  The rest of the skin doesn’t do it.  And just because you know how one step in the sensing process works, doesn’t mean it’s not a sensing process. 

It turns out (Not Slippery When Wet SCIENCE vol. 339 no. 6116 January 11, 2013 page 126 reviewing work by Tom Schumlders et al. of  Newcastle Univesity) that wrinkling lets you handle slippery objects under water better.  It’s no help with dry objects.

Desmond Morris in The Naked Ape proposed that at some point humans lived in the water for a lot of the time.  He pointed out things like the fact that many humans are almost hairless like other marine mammals.  For me there is other evidence as well.  There is a diving reflex that slows our metabolism, probably shared with other mammals.  There is the fact that if a person swims underwater to the point of exhaustion he will pass out but continue not to breathe, at least I am told that sometimes happens.  Children have been pulled out from under ice where they have strayed and been stuck for an hour or so and recovered without impairment.  In the US an enormous proportion of the population lives in counties bordering on large bodies of water or large rivers.  Waterfront property is desired.  Children like to swim.  I can stop my nostrils with my upper lip.  It’s all circumstantial, or course, but intriguing.  So I bought into the idea and still like it although it is not very popular nowadays.

But now there is a test.  Do chimpanzees have the same skin wrinkling on their hands if they are kept wet?  If not, then I say Morris is vindicated.  If so, then I will concede that at least that adaptation to water is not uniquely human.

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