Fingernails and toenails

  We carry with us 20 nails all the time. They are not at all like the nails we buy. Instead they are scalelike—oval and thin. These nails, of course, are our fingernails and toenails.

  Our nails are very helpful—much more helpful than most of us realize. Our fingernails help us pick up things and do fine work. They also protect the ends of our fingers. The ends of our toes are protected by our toenails.

  Nails grow from a special layer of skin. If they are healthy, they keep growing so that, even with the wear and tear on them, they are always long enough to protect our finger tips and the ends of our toes. Often, in fact, we do not wear our nails off as fast as they grow, and they have to be filed to keep them from being too long.

  Our fingernails have a great deal to do with our looks. Some people go to beauty shops often for manicures. The word "manicure" comes from two Latin words that mean "hand" and "care." Taking care of your hands is chiefly a matter of taking care of your nails. Many people do their own manicuring. An important part of a manicure is getting the cuticle in shape. The cuticle is the thin skin that grows up over the base of the nail. It should be pushed back very gently. If it grows too high and some has to be trimmed off, the trimming should be done very carefully.

  Many animals have the same special layer of skin that produces nails for us. Some animals have nails much like ours.

  Others have claws instead. Still others have hoofs. Nails, claws, and hoofs are made of the same material in the same way.

  Apes have nails much like ours. So do most monkeys. Some monkeys have some flat nails and some claws. The walrus is another animal with some nails and some claws. Walruses have nails on all the toes of their front feet but they have claws on some of the toes of their hind feet.

  Lions, tigers, cats, and dogs are among the many mammals that have claws on all their toes. Birds, turtles, and lizards have claws on all their toes, too.

  A great group of mammals have hoofs. The horse, of course, is one of them. A horse, as it runs about, is really running on its middle toenails.