MadSci Network: Zoology

Re: Do any animals other than humans have fingerprints?

Area: Zoology
Posted By: Thomas O'Neil, research scientist,Coastal Restoration Division, Louisiana Department of Natural Resources
Date: Thu Feb 20 19:37:57 1997

Thank you for your question, sorry to take so long responding but I have been out in the field for the past two weeks.

Fingerprints in animals, including man seem to have evolved in animals that require a great deal of manual dexterity. Animals that grasp or hold things in their hands are better able to hold slick or slippery objects if they have ridges or fingerprints on their gripping surfaces. To illustrate this principle more clearly, think of your car's tires. If the tires had no tread the car would have a great deal of trouble gripping the road, especially in the rain. The same is true of animals gripping objects.

It is known that gorillas and other primates do have fingerprints, of special interest however, is that our closest relative, the chimpanzee does not. Koala bears also have fingerprints.

Individual fingerprints appear to be restricted to humans and gorillas.

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