MadSci Network: Anatomy

Re: Do finger prints ever chande?

Date: Fri Mar 19 05:58:43 1999
Posted By: Dave Koppenhaver, Staff, Forensic Chemist, Indiana State Police Laboratory
Area of science: Anatomy
ID: 921519248.An

Your fingerprints are formed in the womb and the "basic pattern" stays the 
same your whole life.  However, if you cut yourself and it leaves a scar 
your fingerprints will have changed because a scar now would be visible on 
your print.  Some people who work with their hands might wear some of the 
ridges (called friction ridges)off completely.  For example, someone who 
carries cinder blocks all day long.  

Let's look at an example.  Say a guy commits a burglary, leaves a latent 
(hidden) print, then gets a job carrying cinder blocks.  A year later the 
police find him and they make inked prints of his fingerprints.  Now it is 
up to a fingerprint examiner to determine if any of the suspects fingers 
made the latent print at the crime scene.  She does this by trying to find 
as many points of similarities as possible between the latent print and 
the inked prints, looking at both under magnification.  Now the suspects 
fingerprints have changed some in that year, because of his job, but 
remember the basic pattern is unchanged, so the fingerprint examiner can 
still find some points of similarities.  

You can also use elbows and animal noses for identifications.  For 
example, in 4H they nose print prize winning cows for identification 
purposes, and our fingerprint examiner helped solve a kidnapping by 
matching the suspects elbow print to an elbow print left on the roof of a 
car just ablove the window.

Good question Christa thanks,  Dave

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