UK researchers from Newcastle University have confirmed wet objects are easier to handle with wrinkled fingers than with dry, smooth ones.
They suggest our ancestors may have evolved the creases as they foraged for food in wet vegetation or in streams.
Their experiments are reported in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.
These involved asking volunteers to pick up marbles immersed in a bucket of water with one hand and then passing them through a small slot to be deposited by the other hand in a second container.
Volunteers with wrinkled fingers routinely completed the task faster than their smooth-skinned counterparts.