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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Guide to fingerprint identification

Dermatoglyphics (from Ancient Greek derma, "skin", and glyph, "carving") is the scientific study of fingerprints, lines, mounts and shapes of hands, as distinct from the superficially similar pseudoscience of palmistry.

Dermatoglyphics also refers to the making of naturally occurring ridges on certain body parts, namely palms, fingers, soles, and toes. These are areas where hair usually does not grow, and these ridges allow for increased leverage when picking up objects or walking barefoot.

In a 2009 report, the scientific basis underlying dermatoglyphics was questioned by the National Academy of Sciences, for the discipline's reliance on subjective comparisons instead of conclusions drawn from the scientific method.[1]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • How Do My Fingerprints Form?
  • DMIT - Dermatoglyphics Multiple Intelligence Test
  • Finger Dermatoglyphic: In Race & Forensic
  • Types of fingerprints | Arches Whorl and Loop | Central pocket loop, double loop, ulnar, radial etc
  • How Crimes are solved using Finger Prints | Finger Print Analysis | Forensic Science


If you have fingers, I’m guessing you've fingerprints. Those fingerprints are what make you unique, right? That’s why all the smart criminals on TV wear gloves. I mean, not even identical twins have the same prints. But a lot of the way that fingerprints form is, as it turns out, controlled by genetics. Even though a lot of people think of fingerprints as being random, the main pattern, which is the general shape that your print makes, is really a product of your genes. There are three basic classes of fingerprints: There are whorls, which mostly look like swirls or circles; loops, which are just curvy lines that start and end on the same side of the finger; and arches, which start and end on opposite sides of the finger. Now, genetics don’t directly control which of these patterns appear on each finger. But they do affect the factors that lead to the different shapes -- like the symmetry of the finger’s surface. See, between the sixth and eighth week of a fetus’ development, a fetus starts to get these extra thick pads on its fingers and palms and feet, called volar pads. These pads begin to appear when a special kind of stem-cell tissue swells beneath the existing layers of skin. This tissue is called mesenchyme, and it eventually forms connective tissues like skin and blood vessels. In humans, these volar pads don’t stick around for long. Around week ten, the pads stop growing, while the hands continue to grow. For the next five weeks, then, the volar pads smooth out into the hands and feet we’re all familiar with. But what they look like as they disappear is largely controlled by genes, which affect both how the hand grows and when exactly the fingerprints begin to form. And the results are not always symmetrical or uniform. For instance, a finger might grow faster on one side than the other, leading to a volar pad that’s slanted to the left or right like a tiny ramp. If the primary ridges, which are the earliest precursors of the ridges in fingerprints, form along that slant, they’ll make a loop. But if the volar pad isn’t slanted when the ridges show up, then they’ll form a more symmetrical pattern. Research has found that if the pad is flat, but still prominent, the ridges will turn into a whorl. But if the pad has mostly disappeared, though, then they’ll form an arch. Since these patterns are informed by genetics, the patterns often run in families. BUT! There are smaller intricacies within the fingerprints -- which the experts just call minutiae -- that do vary from person to person, even within families. And we’re not totally clear on how that part works, but research suggests that these finer points are influenced by environmental factors, including the actual position of the fetus in the womb, whether it’s touching the amniotic sac, and even the density of amniotic fluid. Together, these things can tweak the overall pattern, like the number of ridges, or where they converge on your finger. Even in identical twins, then, the patterns on each of their fingers may match up, but their prints aren’t exactly the same. So not only are your fingerprints unique -- they can also tell you a lot about how you developed in the womb. Thanks for asking, and thanks to all of our patrons on Patreon who make SciShow possible through their monthly contributions. If you like Quick Questions and SciShow and want to help us keep making more videos like this, you can go to!


1823 marks the beginning of the scientific study of papillary ridges of the hands and feet, with the work of Jan Evangelista Purkyně.[2]

By 1858, Sir William Herschel, 2nd Baronet, while in India, became the first European to realize the value of fingerprints for identification.

Sir Francis Galton conducted extensive research on the importance of skin-ridge patterns, demonstrating their permanence and advancing the science of fingerprint identification with his 1892 book Fingerprints.

In 1893, Sir Edward Henry published the book The classification and uses of fingerprints, which marked the beginning of the modern era of fingerprint identification and is the basis for other classification systems.

In 1929, Harold Cummins and Charles Midlo M.D., together with others, published the influential book Fingerprints, Palms and Soles, a bible in the field of dermatoglyphics.

In 1945, Lionel Penrose, inspired by the works of Cummins and Midlo, conducted his own dermatoglyphic investigations as a part of his research into Down syndrome and other congenital medical disorders.

In 1976, Schaumann and Alter published the book Dermatoglyphics in Medical Disorders, which summarizes the findings of dermatoglyphic patterns under disease conditions.

In 1982, Seltzer, et al., conducted a study on patients with breast cancer, and concluded that the presence of six or more whorls on a woman's fingertips indicated her being at high risk for breast cancer.

Although the study of dermatoglyphics has some adjunctive value in the diagnosis of genetic syndromes (see examples below), there is insufficient evidence to indicate that there is any value in the examination of dermal ridge patterns for the diagnosis of disease or for identifying disease susceptibility.

Dermatoglyphics and genetic conditions

Dermatoglyphics, when correlated with genetic abnormalities, aids in the diagnosis of congenital malformations at birth or soon after.

  • Klinefelter syndrome: excess of arches on digit 1, more frequent ulnar loops on digit 2, overall fewer whorls, lower ridge counts for loops and whorls as compared with controls, and significant reduction of the total finger ridge count.[3]
  • Cri du chat (5p-): abnormal dermatoglyphics, including single transverse palmar creases and triradii in the t' position on both hands,[4] are associated with 92% of patients, according to a critical review of multiple studies.[5]
  • Congenital blindness: Initial data points to abnormal triradius.[6]
  • Naegeli–Franceschetti–Jadassohn syndrome: patients lack dermatoglyphics of any kind.[7]
  • Noonan syndrome: increased frequency of whorls on fingertips; and the axial triradius t, as in Turner syndrome, is more often in position t' or t" than in controls.[8] Increased incidence of the single transverse palmar crease.
  • Trisomy 13 (Patau syndrome): excess of arches on fingertips and single transverse palmar creases in 60% of patients.[9] Additionally, the hallucal fibular arches tend to form "S" patterns.[10]
  • Trisomy 18 (Edward's syndrome): 6–10 arches on fingertips and single transverse palmar creases in 30% of patients.
  • Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome): people with Down syndrome have a fingerprint pattern with mainly ulnar loops, and a distinct angle between the triradia a, t, and d (the 'adt angle'). Other differences include a single transverse palmar crease ("Simian line") (in 50% of patients), patterns in the hypothenar and interdigital areas,[11] and lower ridge counts along digital midlines, especially in little fingers, which corresponds to finger shortening in those with Down syndrome.[12] There is less variation in dermatoglyphic patterns between people with Down syndrome than between controls,[13] and dermatoglyphic patterns can be used to determine correlations with congenital heart defects in individuals with Down syndrome by examining the left hand digit ridge count minus the right hand digit ridge count, and the number of ridges on the fifth digit of the left hand.[14]
  • Turner syndrome: predominance of whorls, though the pattern frequency depends on the particular chromosomal abnormality.[15]
  • Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome: preponderance of broad thumbs, low mean ridge count, and fingerprint patterns occurring on interdigital areas.[16]
  • Schizophrenia: A-B ridge counts are generally lower than in controls.[17]
  • Tel Hashomer camptodactyly syndrome : Dermatoglyphic characters that need to be present to diagnose THC are: (a) presence of seven or more whorls on digits (these whorls extend beyond the borders of the terminal phalanges), (b) low main line index, caused by the highly vertical orientation of the A to D radiants, and (c) numerous palmar creases that obliterate the normal structure of the ridges and openings of the sweat pores.[18]

Dermatoglyphics and Medical conditions

The relationship between different dermatoglyphic traits and various medical diseases have been widely evaluated.

  • Hypertension: A systematic review shows some evidence suggesting that hypertensive patients tend to have an elevated frequency of digital whorl patterns that goes along with having higher average ridge counts than controls.[19]


  1. ^ National Research Council (2009). Strengthening Forensic Science: A Path Forward. Washington, DC: National Academies Press. doi:10.17226/12589. ISBN 978-0-309-13130-8.
  2. ^ Grzybowski, Andrzej; Pietrzak, Krzysztof (2015). "Jan Evangelista Purkynje (1787-1869): first to describe fingerprints". Clinics in Dermatology. 33 (1): 117–121. doi:10.1016/j.clindermatol.2014.07.011. ISSN 1879-1131. PMID 25530005.
  3. ^ Komatz Y, Yoshida O (1976). "Finger patterns and ridge counts of patients with Klinefelter's syndrome (47, XXY) among the Japanese". Hum Hered. 26 (4): 290–7. doi:10.1159/000152816. PMID 976997.
  4. ^ Kajii, Tadashi; Homma, Takemi; Oikawa, Kiyoshi; Furuyama, Masayuki; Kawarazaki, Takashi (1 February 1966). "Cri du chat syndrome". Archives of Disease in Childhood. 41 (215): 97–101. doi:10.1136/adc.41.215.97. PMC 2019529. PMID 5906633.
  5. ^ Rodriguez-Caballero, Ángela; Torres-Lagares, Daniel; Rodriguez-Perez, Antonio; Serrera-Figallo, María-Ángeles; Hernandez-Guisado, José-María; Machuca-Portillo, Guillermo (2010). "Cri du chat syndrome: A critical review". Medicina Oral Patología Oral y Cirugia Bucal. 15 (3): e473–e478. doi:10.4317/medoral.15.e473. PMID 20038906.
  6. ^ Viswanathan G, Singh H, Ramanujam P (2002). "Dermatoglyphic analysis of palmar print of blind children from Bangalore". J. Ecotoxicol. Environ. Monit. 12: 49–52. and excess of arches on fingertips.Viswanathan G, Singh H, Ramanujam P (2002). "[Dermatoglyphic analysis of fingertip print patterns of blind children from Bangalore.]". J. Ecotoxicol. Environ. Monit. 12: 73–75.
  7. ^ Lugassy, Jennie; Itin, Peter; Ishida-Yamamoto, Akemi; Holland, Kristen; Huson, Susan; Geiger, Dan; Hennies, Hans Christian; Indelman, Margarita; Bercovich, Dani; Uitto, Jouni; Bergman, Reuven; McGrath, John A.; Richard, Gabriele; Sprecher, Eli (October 2006). "Naegeli-Franceschetti-Jadassohn Syndrome and Dermatopathia Pigmentosa Reticularis: Two Allelic Ectodermal Dysplasias Caused by Dominant Mutations in KRT14". The American Journal of Human Genetics. 79 (4): 724–730. doi:10.1086/507792. ISSN 0002-9297. OCLC 110008768. PMC 1592572. PMID 16960809.
  8. ^ Rott H, Schwanitz G, Reither M (1975). "[Dermatoglyphics in Noonan's syndrome (author's transl)]". Acta Genet Med Gemellol (Roma). 24 (1–2): 63–7. doi:10.1017/s1120962300021892. PMID 1224924.
  9. ^ Schaumann, Blanka; Alter, Milton (1976). Dermatoglyphics in Medical Disorders. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg. pp. 166–167. ISBN 9783642516207. OCLC 858928199.
  10. ^ Hodes, M E; Cole, J; Palmer, C G; Reed, T (1 February 1978). "Clinical experience with trisomies 18 and 13". Journal of Medical Genetics. 15 (1): 48–60. doi:10.1136/jmg.15.1.48. PMC 1012823. PMID 637922.
  11. ^ Rajangam S, Janakiram S, Thomas I (1995). "Dermatoglyphics in Down's syndrome". J Indian Med Assoc. 93 (1): 10–3. PMID 7759898.
  12. ^ Mglinets V (1991). "[Relationship between dermatoglyphic variability and finger length in genetic disorders: Down's syndrome]". Genetika. 27 (3): 541–7. PMID 1830282.
  13. ^ Mglinets V, Ivanov V (1993). "[Bilateral symmetry of the dermatoglyphic characteristics in Down's syndrome]". Ontogenez. 24 (3): 98–102. PMID 8355961.
  14. ^ Durham N, Koehler J (1989). "Dermatoglyphic indicators of congenital heart defects in Down's syndrome patients: a preliminary study". J Ment Defic Res. 33 (4): 343–8. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2788.1989.tb01485.x. PMID 2527997.
  15. ^ Reed T, Reichmann A, Palmer C (1977). "Dermatoglyphic differences between 45,X and other chromosomal abnormalities of Turner syndrome". Hum Genet. 36 (1): 13–23. doi:10.1007/BF00390431. PMID 858621. S2CID 24603313.
  16. ^ Padfield, C. J.; Partington, M. W.; Simpson, N. E. (1 February 1968). "The Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome". Archives of Disease in Childhood. 43 (227): 94–101. doi:10.1136/adc.43.227.94. ISSN 0003-9888. OCLC 104040715. PMC 2019897. PMID 5642988.
  17. ^ Fañanás, L; Moral, P; Bertranpetit, J (June 1990). "Quantitative dermatoglyphics in schizophrenia: study of family history subgroups". Human biology. 62 (3): 421–7. ISSN 0018-7143. OCLC 116604541. PMID 2373511.
  18. ^ Wijerathne, Buddhika T. B.; Meier, Robert J.; Agampodi, Suneth B. (December 2016). "The status of dermatoglyphics as a biomarker of Tel Hashomer camptodactyly syndrome: a review of the literature". Journal of Medical Case Reports. 10 (1): 258. doi:10.1186/s13256-016-1048-7. ISSN 1752-1947. PMC 5030737. PMID 27650795.
  19. ^ Wijerathne, Buddhika T. B.; Meier, Robert J.; Agampodi, Thilini; Agampodi, Suneth B. (August 2015). "Dermatoglyphics in hypertension: a review". Journal of Physiological Anthropology. 34 (1): 29. doi:10.1186/s40101-015-0065-3. ISSN 1880-6805. PMC 4534102. PMID 26265377.

Further reading

This page was last edited on 3 December 2023, at 23:18
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