Tuesday, November 22, 2016

MOON AT MY FINGERTIPS – The Rise of Lunulae

Those of you who follow my musings here know how I love to contrast, compare and interpolate between the opposite ends of scales—time, size, distance...

The universe is immense beyond our comprehension. Yet this vastness is reflected figuratively at our fingertips. For there, in a single skin cell, exists another  “universe”—one of ever-smaller and smaller particles.

Also at our fingertips, an anatomical detail so ubiquitous that we human beings seldom, if ever, even notice it—our lunulae. (I can hardly believe I’ve been writing and blogging about the wisdom of wonder for decades, and this is the first time I’ve thought to post about them.)

PHOTO: Kommissar via Wikipedia
Lunulae are those funny little “half-moons” of lighter color that rise from cuticle’s horizon at the base of our fingernails. In fact, their name actually means “little moons” in Latin.


The lunula is the only visible part of the nail matrix, or the living part of the fingernail. It looks white because it veils the network of red capillaries underneath, and is visible only because the kind of keratin that makes up human nails is translucent.

There are seldom ten visible lunulae on the hands. Their size decreases from thumb to little finger, and for many of us there is none on the pinky fingers. Toenail half-moons are even more elusive, with most people’s visible only on their big toes. Often, lunulae disappear as one ages.

Information about the lunulae of other primates is extremely hard to come by, but what little I’ve found suggests that all animals with flat finger and toe nails do have them. However, in most cases they’re obscured either by the cuticle or by pigmentation rendering the nails opaque.


Lunulae are yet another example of the myriad small wonders hiding in plain sight on, in and around us all the time. Reserve a little time every day from busy-ness to notice and celebrate them. For, despite what may seem a human race losing touch with reality, this is one small yet increasingly vital way we claim our truth.


Post a Comment

Thanks for visiting One Man's Wonder! I'd love to hear your comments on this post or my site in general.
And please stay in touch by clicking on "Subscribe" below.