Fingerprints : You are unique

Fingerprints : You are unique

Fingerprints are the tiny ridges, whorls and valley patterns on the tips of your fingers. No two people have been found to have the same fingerprint - each are totally unique. Fingerprints are even more unique than DNA, the genetic material in each of our cells. Although identical twins can share the same DNA - or at least most of it - they can't have the same fingerprint.

Fingerprinting is one form of biometrics, a science that uses people's physical characteristics to identify them. Fingerprints are ideal for this purpose because they're inexpensive to collect and analyse, and they never change, even as people age.

Fingerprints are made of an arrangement of ridges, called friction ridges. Each ridge contains pores, which are attached to sweat glands under the skin. You leave fingerprints on just about anything you touch because you sweat.

Scientists look at the arrangement, shape, size and number of lines in these fingerprint patterns to tell one from another. They also analyse very tiny characteristics called minutiae, which can't be seen with the naked eye.

The technique of fingerprinting is known as dactyloscopy. Until the advent of digital scanning technologies, fingerprinting was done using ink and a card.

Law enforcement agents can analyse fingerprints they find at the scene of a crime. Prints are of two types: Visible prints are made on surfaces that create an impression, like blood, dirt or clay. Latent prints are made when sweat, oil or other substances on the skin reproduce the ridge structure of the fingerprint on a glass, murder weapon or any other surface the perpetrator has touched. These prints can't be seen with the naked eye, but they can be made visible using dark powder, lasers or other light sources. Police officers can then "lift" these prints with tape or take special photographs of them.







* Francis Galton an English Victorian polymath, designed a system of classifying prints for measuring intelligence.

Instead, it was used for catching criminals.

* The 14th century Persian book "Jaamehol-Tawarikh" (Universal History), by Khajeh Rashiduddin Fazlollah Hamadani (1247-1318), talks of the practice of identifying persons from their fingerprints.

* The English first began using fingerprints in 1858, when Sir William James Herschel, Chief Magistrate of the Hooghly district in Jungipoor, India, first used fingerprints on native contracts.

* Dactyloscopy means "study of fingerprints".


Ridges [ri-jes]

a raised part or area on a surface

Whorls [hwurls]

series of circular patterns that turn

around a centre point

Pores [pawrs]

very small openings on the

surface of the skin

Glands [glands]

organs that make substances

(such as saliva, sweat, or bile) used

by the body

Advent [ad-vent]

first appearance of something

Perpetrator [pur-pi-trey-ter]

a person who commits an illegal act



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