Know Your Body: Fingers

Can’t quite put your finger on why your fingers are such a uniquely ace physiological wonder? Let us point you in the right direction.

9 fingers

Fingers Crossed
There are 27 bones, 29 joints and at least 123 named ligaments in the human hand, but there are zero muscles: Tendons in our fingers are moved by the muscles of the forearm. Weirdly enough, if you were to lose one finger, the hand surgeons’ consensus is that your index finger is needed the least. See? Your pinky matters after all.

Common Touch
Our fingers are more sensitive than our eyes and have a 24/7 hotline to the brain through our somatosensory system. This massive network of nerve endings includes four different types of specialised touch receptors to help us recognise such sensations as temperature, pressure, vibration, texture, pain and the position of our bodies in relation to their surroundings. Each fingertip is covered in a one-of-a-kind pattern of ridges, which maximises surface area for increased touch sensitivity (and also allows us to unlock phones without typing forgettable passcodes).

Pointing to Love
There’s a vein on your ring finger called the Vena Amoris (“vein of love”), which is connected directly to the heart and is the reason we wear engagement and wedding rings on that finger.

Nailed It
Your fingernails are modified hairs. And they’re not just for scratching your arse, either: They also help identify health problems. An absent lunula (the “little moon” at the base of the nail) can indicate a mineral or vitamin deficiency, liver or thyroid trouble, anaemia and even depression. They take six months to grow from root to tip, and understandably, stop growing completely when you die.