Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Hard keratinous structure that covers the dorsal aspect of terminal phalanges in primates (rather than claws). In anthropoids, with the exception of the callitrichids, each digit has a nail; all primates have a nail on at least one digit. Nails are also found, usually on the first digit only, among some arboreal mammals such as opossums. It has been suggested that nails evolved in primates to support the tactile pads on the ventral aspect of the terminal phalanges.

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