Ask Dr. Universe: What are fingernails made of?

Dr-Universe-230PULLMAN, Wash. – My claws can come in quite handy when I need to scratch my ears or climb trees. I bet you’ve found that your own fingernails can be useful tools, too. Perhaps you’ve used them to pick up a penny or peel an orange.

It turns out that while my claws and your fingernails look a little different, they are actually made out of the same thing: keratin.

That’s what I discovered when I went to visit my friend Professor Lisa Carloye, who teaches biology here at Washington State University.

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