Fingerprints are unique tiny friction ridges present on our fingertips, thumbs, palms, and soles. Fingerprints are absolutely unique for a person. No two people have same fingerprints even the identical twins have distinct patterns. In today’s world, fingerprints are widely used for person’s identification, biometric authentication, crime scene investigation to reach the culprit and so on. Here we have collected some of amazing and interesting facts about fingerprints you probably didn’t know before:
How fingerprints are formed?
Fingerprints start developing in mother’s womb during the second and third month of pregnancy. Gradually, during the fourth month of pregnancy, the baby’s skin forms a thin transparent layer. The skin keeps on changing and evolving and finally “ridges” are formed. Fingerprints are made up of arrangement of these friction ridges.
Top 14 mind-blowing and interesting facts about fingerprints!
1. History of fingerprints
World’s oldest fingerprint was discovered in Kuwait on a piece of broken clay pot. This pot is estimated to be about 7300 years old.
The earliest evidences of fingerprints being used as signatures are found in ancient Babylon in the second millennium BC. King Hammurabi used finger seals on contracts. The law officers would secure the fingerprints so as to authorize the arrested persons if needed.
In 650 AD, Chinese historian Kia Kung-Yen mentioned use of fingerprints when official contracts were prepared. Moreover, the law book of Yung-Hwui necessitated use of husband’s fingerprints when filing for the divorce.
In AD 1100, Chinese novelist Shi-Naingan mentioned about fingerprints. He wrote in his book “The Story of the River Bank”; “He compelled them to ink their fingers to record their fingerprints.”
On the other hand, the English first began using fingerprints in 1858. On July 28, 1858, Sir William Herschel, Chief Magistrate of the Hooghly district in Jungipoor, India, started to have fingerprints of local businessmen on every contract.
After World War II, there was a sudden spike for fingerprint collection. By the year 1943, the FBI had collected fingerprints of more than 70 million people for their record.
In February 1905, fingerprints were used for the first time to convict brothers Alfred and Albert Stratton for a murder.
2. The scientific term for fingerprints is “dermatoglyph”!
The scientific name of fingerprints is “dermatoglyph
” derived from two Greek words. The first is ‘Dermato’ meaning the skin and second is ‘glyphics’ from ‘gluphikos’ meaning the sculpted - “sculpted skin”.
3. There are three types of fingerprint patterns!
Fingerprints are of three distinct patterns. These include loops, whorls and arches.
4. So what is the most common fingerprint pattern?
The loop pattern is the most common an about 60% of people have this pattern, followed by whorls and then arches. Only 5% global population has arches pattern.
5. Before fingerprints, police relied on Bertillon system for identification of culprit!
Bertillon system was introduced by French criminologist Alphonse Bertillon
in 1879. The system was based on five bone measurement. These were head length, head breadth, length of the middle finger, length of the left foot and also the length of bone from forearm to extremity of middle finger (called as cubit). Alphonse suggested that every person has unique and distinct body proportions and this thing can be utilized for identifying criminals.
After the invention of photography, police and law agencies began to keep photograph of suspects. The similar technique is still used in mug shots. Fingerprints replaced the long used Bertillon system.
6. This is how we leave fingerprints on things we touch!
Our fingers have sweat glands. Sweat has some moisture as well as some salts in it. Therefore, it is sticky. So, when we touch something, this sticky film of sweat and oil trapped in the friction ridges leaves behind our “fingerprint”.
7. A hacker was able to recreate the fingerprint of the German Defense Minister from his photo!
In 2014, a hacker successfully recreated
the fingerprints of German Defense Minister, Ursula von der Leyen from a photograph. This was the same hacker who had defeated Apple’s thumbprint verification within 24 hours of the release of the iPhone 5S.
8. Identical twins have identical genes but still different fingerprints!
It’s truly amazing that the identical twins are indistinguishable if we perform DNA testing. Despite having the same genome, their fingerprints are still different and unique. Both babies will have unique pattern of friction ridges, whorls, and loops on their fingers.
9. Some people are born with No fingerprints!
Fingerprints are unique for every person. Therefore, these are commonly used to identify the person. However, there are people who do not have these friction ridges or fingerprints on fingers, palms and toes. That’s why; they are not and cannot be identified with fingerprints.
10. Adermatoglyphia – a genetic condition in which the person has no fingerprints!
Adermatoglyphia is a genetic condition in which the person has no fingerprints by birth. This genetic defect is also known as “immigration delay disease”. This is probably because the person often faces difficulty entering countries that require fingerprinting for identification. Nonetheless, Adermatoglyphia is very rare and only few people have this.
11. Fun fact – there are marihuana vending machines that operate by fingerprint scanning!
In United States and Canada, there are “marijuana vending machines”. These machines are installed in secure rooms and scan the fingerprint of a user. The purpose of these machines is to provide medicinal dosage of marijuana, only to prescribed users.
12. Apple’s iPhone Touch ID is smart enough to recognize the difference of living and dead person’s fingerprints!
If someone tries to unlock the iPhone with dead person’s fingerprint, iPhone Touch ID can recognize the difference. According to the smart phone company, the fingerprint for touch ID is not stored in image form; rather it is saved as some mathematical expression. Furthermore, the moisture and warmth also seem to play their role. Therefore, when a person is dead, his body gradually becomes cold and stiff. So, it’ll be almost impossible to use his fingerprints to unlock his phone.
13. You may lose your fingerprints forever!
Depending on amount of skin damage, fingerprints may never recover. It mostly happens in case of burning but also possible if you have deep cut or skin peeled from fingers. If a person suffers second or third degree burns, he will permanently lose his fingerprints. Thus, he can no longer be identified through fingerprint.
Therefore, sometime criminals purposely damage their skin to get rid of their fingerprints once and for all.
14. Do koalas have same fingerprints as humans?
Another of interesting facts about fingerprints! Koala’s fingerprints are somewhat similar to humans. Koalas have ridges on fingers like us, and that’s why their fingerprints look like ours. Therefore, there is possibility of mistaking koala’s fingerprints as humans and vice versa.
However, there is one major difference. Koalas have two thumbs on each hand, which would mean a koala would leave four different thumb prints on things or objects. Otherwise, it would have been easier to blame koalas.
These were some of interesting facts about fingerprints. Share in comments if you know more fun facts. Stay tuned for more exciting content.