MadSci Network: Genetics

Re: why is everyones fingerprints different?

Date: Sat May 10 19:48:25 2003
Posted By: Michael Watson, Biomedical Engineer currently Teaching Math/Biology
Area of science: Genetics
ID: 1052251911.Ge

Dear Kelsey

People always ask if identical twins have the same prints, the answer is NO. They have completely different fingerprints, although they have the same DNA.

However, fingerprints are not an entirely genetic characteristic. Scientists love to use this topic as an example of the old "nature vs. nurture" debate. Fingerprinting, along with other physical characteristics, is an example of a phenotype -- meaning that it is determined by the interaction of an indivdual's genes and the developmental environment in the uterus.

The ultimate shape of fingerprints are believed to be influenced by environmental factors during pregnancy, like nutrition, blood pressure, position in the womb and the growth rate of the fingers at the end of the first trimester. Thus, you will find similar partterns of whorls and ridges in the fingerprints of identical twins. But there will also be differences -- just as there are differences between the fingers on any individual's hands.

I hope this helps in answering your question. If run a search using Google, Ask or one of the other free search engines with terms such as fingerprints and Identical twins you will find even more information.

Good luck


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