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Are Fingerprints Inherited?

written by: •edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski•updated: 1/31/2010

In this article you will find out the answer to a question that many people are asking: are fingerprints inherited? Do identical twins have the same fingerprints? Can a daughter inherit her fingerprints from her mother? Read on to find out the answers.

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    A person develops a fingerprint pattern during the third and fourth months of fetal development. Fingerprints are ridges on the skin that help us to grasp objects and keep them from slipping. The patterns that make up our fingerprints occur in different patterns with different ridge characteristics. These patterns of ridges contain our sweat pores and allow the glands to release sweat and oil. This is also how a fingerprint is actually made. A fingerprint forms when the oil, or amino acid, is transferred to a surface. A fingerprint can also be made when the ridges leave an impression in a soft substance.

    A person will keep this same fingerprint her entire life. The only way a fingerprint can ever change or go away is during decomposition after death.

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    Are Your Fingerprints Unique?

    Yes, every person has his own unique fingerprint. No two fingerprints are alike, but the pattern of your fingerprint is inherited from close relatives and people in your immediate family. This is considered "level 1 detail." The detail of your actual finger and palm print is not inherited. This is considered "level 2 and 3 level detail" and is used to identify fingerprints from person to person.

    The similarities that fingerprints have are the their patterns. These patterns are put into three different group types: loop, whorl and arch. A loop pattern is where the ridges enter from either side, re-curve and pass out the same side they entered. A whorl is where the ridges are in a circular pattern. And in an arch pattern, the ridges come in from one side, make a rise in the middle and exit on the opposite side from which they came in.

    There are three different characteristics that fingerprints have: ridge endings, birfurcations and dots. These three characteristics appear in combinations on the hands and feet and are never repeated. Every person has her own special combination and this combination is never repeated twice. The characteristics can be identified very easily because they each have their own purpose and meaning. A ridge ending is the end of a ridge and a dot is a ridge that is so short that is looks like a dot. A birfurcation is is when a V-shaped split of a ridge turns into two.

    So in conclusion, no two people have the same fingerprints. Even a set of identical twins will not have the same fingerprints. They may have some similarities, but the fingerprints themselves are completely different. You may inherit a pattern from your immediate family members or close relatives, but the details of your fingerprint are different from every other person on earth.

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    References

    Science Buddies: Are Fingerprint Patterns Inherited? - www.sciencebuddies.org/fingerprint-patterns

    Onin: Fingerprints - www.onin.com/printinfo