Fingerprints are a great tool for identification yet they cannot tell the potential criminal
Everyone knows that criminal law uses fingerprints for identification. What makes them so unique that even identical twins cannot have identical fingerprints? What can they tell about a person they belong to?
There is a science that can answer any of these questions. Dermatoglyphics (from the Greek dermatos – skin, glypho – to engrave) is a science that studies patterns on human skin. Prints are indispensable as the original patterns on skin are less easy to examine. Anthropologists are those who are interested in dermatoglyphics.
Skin patterns and ridges are characteristic of the apes. The number and complexity of the patterns depends on how often the ape grabs objects and how many ways he uses to do so.
Babies try to touch everything with their fingers: the more often they do this, the more their higher nervous activity is developed. The ridges on fingers help to identify such properties of the object as its texture (smooth or rough), temperature, weight etc. that are important in identifying the object as a whole.
It is well known that people's skin ridges form loops, curls and curves. Frequency of this or that pattern depends mostly on person’s race, which finger it is and also whether a person has pathologic peculiarities of the central nervous system. By the way, when there is pathology, Down's syndrome, for instance, skin patterns regardless of person's race have a number of certain characteristic features.
It is clear that a child with Down's syndrome is easily diagnosed without looking at his skin patterns. In case with a child who can be potential stammerer symmetrical skin patterns can point to this speech defect even before a child begins to speak.
One of the peculiarities of the human kind is diversity. Pathology, on the other hand, presupposes sameness. Faces of people with Down's syndrome, for instance. Fingerprints are used for identification because they are simple to get. Voice, handwriting, location of birthmarks etc. can just as well serve this purpose. Any of these peculiarities can be chosen. Everything depends on your imagination and equipment you have at hand.
Loops and curls can be found on our fingers, but not on the palms. Feet, on the contrary, have relatively simple patterns on toes, but more complex ones on the sole.
In September 2005 Moskovskiy Komsomolets newspaper published an article telling about a person who could predict dangers and problems awaiting a person looking at his skin patterns. It is true, for example, that serial killers' skin patterns do have certain peculiarities. However, nobody knows how many law-abiding citizens have skin patterns similar to those of serial killers. It is absurd to suspect person of anything judging from his fingerprints only. In the same way it is hard to predict future looking at somebody's fingers.
A human being is changing constantly. Thus, if you want to find out person's qualities it is better to carry out direct test. For example, if you want to know his English skills speak English with him. Do not measure his liability to colds.
Fingerprints as a marker system are informative only in extreme cases, for example, in highly professional (Olympic) sports, where the selection is rather strict. Not so long ago, the research has shown that a large number of skin ridges and complex patterns is a characteristic feature of representatives of sports with complex coordination. Sportsmen who withstand short but maximum exertion, on the other hand, have simple loops with little ridges. Still, one should always remember that it is hardly possible to tell much about a person who is physically and mentally healthy judging from fingerprints only.