Why does Skin Wrinkle in Water Reading Answers And Question

The Blog post contains the following IELTS Reading Questions:

  • IELTS Reading Sentence completion
  • IELTS Reading True/False/Not Given

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IELTS reading passage – Why does Skin wrinkle in Water

Why does Skin wrinkle in Water

A. Thousands of years after the invention of the bath, scientists have come up with a theory to explain why our fingers and toes wrinkle when stepped in water. Puckered or wrinkled skin gives a better grip and may have helped our ancestors uproot wet plants when foraging for food, or be steadier and more sure-footed in a slippery, wet environment, they say. Writing in Biology Letters, Tom Smulders, an evolutionary neurobiologist at Newcastle University suggests that it may be an evolutionary development, “Going back in time, this wrinkling could have helped with gathering food from wet vegetation or streams. The analogous effect in the toes could have helped our ancestors get a better footing in the rain,’ he says.

B. The familiar wrinkles on wet fingers and toes may also have benefitted early humans in their first forays into technology. ‘It might have helped handling tools in wet conditions,’ Smulders added, such as fixing hunting weapons in the rain, or fishing with harpoons.

C. It is popularly believed that fingertips absorb water and swell up, making the skin ripple with tiny folds. But this was proved to be incorrect by studies that showed the effect disappeared when the nerves in the fingers were damaged. Rather than swelling up, fingertips shrink when they wrinkle because the blood vessels New Courses inside them contract. The effect is controlled by the autonomic nervous system, which also governs breathing and heart rate.

D. Smulders investigated the benefits of wrinkled fingers after reading a paper by Mark Changizi, director of human cognition at 2A I Labs in Idaho. His report in the journal Brain, Behavior and Evolution suggested that wrinkles on fingers resemble car treads and the network drainage systems seen on mountains.

E. In the latest study, Smulders had 20 people move 45 submerged marbles and fishing weights from one container to another. The objects were plucked one at a time, with the forefinger and thumb of the right hand, passed through a hole in a screen separating the containers and into the thumb and forefinger of the left hand. Smulder timed them on the task, once when they had dry and unwrinkled hands before starting, and again after they had soaked their hands in water for half an hour.

F. The task took between 90 and 150 seconds to complete, but those with wrinkled fingers moved the wet objects 15 seconds faster on average, compared with those who began with dry hands. Wrinkles made no difference to the time it took to do the task with dry objects, according to the study reported in Biology Letters. ‘It could be working like treads on your car tyres which give you a better grip,’ said Smulders.

G. The findings raise the question of how, and from which species, humans inherited their wrinkling skin. ‘My guess is that all primates have pruney fingers, but our only evidence at the moment beyond humans is from macaques,’ said Changizi. At his lab in Idaho, Changizi has done a similar, though more rudimentary, experiment and reached the same conclusions as the Newcastle team. ‘The obvious application here is biologically inspired rain treads for your shoes,’ Changizi said. ‘We’d ideally like to have shoe treads with the right wrinkle shapes for our foot topography. And we’d ideally like to have the treads flatten so that the entire shoe grips the ground once the water is squirted out through the channels.

H. One question that remains is why fingers are not wrinkled all the time, even when they are not in water. The answer may be that wrinkling comes at a cost: the loss of sensitivity.

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Question 1-6:

  • Complete the given sentences. Use NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS for each answer.
  • Write your answers in boxes 1-6 of your answer sheet.

1. It is possible that wrinkling evolved to enable people to maintain a secure _______ in wet conditions while running and walking.
2. Wrinkles on fingers may have helped our ancestors to handle _________ and weapons in the rain.
3. For a long time it was assumed that wrinkles were the result of the skin _________in water.
4. Changizi showed that the pattern of the skin works in a similar way to __________ or runoff channels on the sides of hills.
5. The researchers found that there was __________ time it took for wrinkled fingers to move dry objects.
6. Scientists want to find out how many other _______ display the same trait of wrinkles as humans.

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Questions 7-13:

Complete the summary using words from the reading passage. Use NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS for each answer. Write your answers in boxes 7-13 on your answer sheet.

7. Wrinkled fingers help us to grip objects better underwater and they work in much the same way as…………… help cars stay on the road.
8. New research shows that wrinkles are caused by the ………. constricting below the skin in reaction to the water.
9. The wrinkles help divert water away from the …….
10. Scientists had previously discovered that ………….. fingers did not wrinkle underwater.
11. This suggests that the wrinkling mechanism is controlled by the ………….. and
12. must be some kind of …………… response. It is not clear why our fingers are not permanently
13. wrinkled but scientists believe it may be due to the need to maintain the …………… of the fingertips.

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Answers for why does skin wrinkle in water

1. Answer: Grip 
2. Answer: Tools
3. Answer:  Rippling 
4. Answer: Car treads 
5. Answer: No difference
6. Answer: Primates
7. Answer: Treads
8. Answer: Blood vessels
9. Answer: Fingers
10. Answer: Damaged
11. Answer: Nervous system
12. Answer: Autonomous
13. Answer: Sensitivity 


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