15 Unique Facts About Fingerprints

Are Fingerprints the Same in Children & Adults? Do Twins have Different Fingerprints? Are there People with No Fingerprints? What is the classification of Fingerprints?
facts about fingerprints

Humans have twenty fingers in total combining both hands and legs with the size of each finger & toe differing from one another. Have you wondered does everyone have different fingerprints? The answer is Yes. One of the most unique facts about fingerprints is that every human being that has ever walked on this planet has a unique fingerprint. This is the most amazing feature of human anatomy.

1. The Biology of Fingerprints

Fingerprints are impressions that are left on the surfaces which we touch or put our hands on. There are friction ridges on the fingers of every human being. A friction ridge is a raised portion of the epidermis on the digits of fingers and toes. They are also present on the palm and the sole of the foot. These epidermis ridges help in improving the grip while holding rough surfaces or during surface contact in wet conditions. 

2. Father of Fingerprints

Francis Galton is known as the father of fingerprints. He wrote about fingerprints in a Royal Institution Paper in 1888. He also wrote three books on fingerprints, namely: Finger Prints in 1892, Decipherment of Blurred Finger Prints in 1893, and Fingerprint Directories in 1895. (See Importance of Books in Our Life)

3. Nine Fingerprint Patterns

In 1823, a Czech anatomist and physiologist named Jan Evangelista Purkyně identified that there are nine fingerprint patterns. The three basic types of fingerprints are loop, arch, and whorls. These three types are further classified into:

  • Loop: Radial loop, Ulnar loop, and Double loop.
  • Arch: Tented arch and Plain arch.
  • Whorls: Plain whorl, Accidental whorl, and Central pocket loop whorl.

This is one of the facts about fingerprints that they are of different types as the shape of ridges differs in every individual.

4. Classification Used by FBI

There are several variants of the Henry system, a method where fingerprints are classified based on their physiological characteristics. The system used by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the United States recognizes eight types of patterns: radial loop, ulnar loop, double loop, central pocket loop, plain arch, tented arch, plain whorl, and accidental whorl. (See Why Is It Called Jaywalking?)

5. Initial Discovery

One of the facts about fingerprints is their initial discovery.

  • In 1840, Robert Blake Overton suggested Scotland Yard check the fingerprints for the investigation process of the murder case of Lord William Russell.
  • Later, George Von Meissner, a German anatomist studied friction ridges in 1853.
  • After a few years in 1858, Sir William James Herschel, a British ICS officer in India initiated the use of fingerprints for identifying contracts in India.

6. Uniqueness in Nature

Each person has a different pattern of ridges. Therefore, their prints are different from each other. The chances of coming across two different people having the same fingerprints are as low as 1 in 64 billion people. This co-incidence, in simple language, is quite nearly impossible. (See Why do people fight?)

7. Development Before Birth

Yes, fingerprints are formed on the fingers even before the birth of a baby. We all know that birth takes place after 9 months, but by the time the fetus reaches the 6th month, the fingerprints are fully developed on the fingers of the fetus. These epidermal ridges are caused by the interface of the dermal papillae of the dermis and the interpapillary pegs of the epidermis. This is one of the amazing facts about fingerprints.

8. Each Person With 20 Fingerprints

The fingerprints differ from one human to another but the prints of our own fingers are also different from each other. The five fingers of one hand will have different fingerprints in comparison to the other. Hence, yet another one of the interesting facts about fingerprints is that one person will have a unique fingerprint for each individual finger. This is what allows us to enable different fingerprint screen locks on our phones. (See Why smartphones are so popular?)

facts about fingerprints

9. Koalas Fingerprints Match Ours

The koalas indeed have paw prints too and their prints are very much like humans. Some experts even get confused while differentiating between the fingerprints of humans and koalas. Since koalas possess the same kind of ridges and patterns that are seen in humans. (See Bloodhound – Dog with Best Sense of Smell)

10. Identical Twins’ Fingerprints

About 1.6 million twins are born each year worldwide, with a twin being born in every 42 children. Twinning occurs in birthing at a rate of about 3 in every 1000 deliveries worldwide, and twins are about 0.3% of the world population. But even the twins’ fingerprints do not match with each other. Although they may have the same faces, the ridges forming their fingerprints will still be different. (See Why is Your Small Finger Called a Pinky?)

11. Tobacco Residue On Fingerprints

Even after a person has thrown the bud of the cigarette, the residue will remain on their fingerprints. It includes even those who have just passed the products or hardly touch them. They all will have the residue stuck to their fingerprints. (See 10 Best Cigarette Brands)

12. Long-lasting Fingerprints

Well, the fingerprints can last for as long as they are not destroyed. The fingerprints discovered in tombs, clay tablets, etc., have been present for thousands of years because they were not ruined. But the duration for which the fingerprints remain depends on different kinds of surfaces:

  • On metals: 2.5 years or more.
  • On plastic: more than 7 years.
  • On surfaces: more than 10 years.
  • On paper: more than 40 years.

13. Use for Identification Purposes

Fingerprints are a piece of evidence that’s considered more accurate than any other source like blood groups, photographs, etc., in a court of law. This is because fingerprints can remain intact for several months even after the person dies, as stated by several sources. Another interesting fact about fingerprints is that they are the most reliable sources of biometrics.

facts about fingerprints

14. People With No Fingerprints

While we all develop fingerprints even before we are born, there are certain people with rare genetic disorders who do not have fingerprints at all.  There are only five extended families in the entire world that are believed to have this rare genetic disorder.

15. Adermatoglyphia: No Fingerprints

Professor Peter Itin named this disorder as immigration delay disease after coming across his first patient who was having a problem with immigration when she was entering the U.S. because she did not have any fingerprints for identification. This condition is known as Adermatoglyphia. This condition can be inherited through genes. (See World Record For Hiccups)

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