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Black or White, your fingerprints can tell


Researchers with work published in American Journal of Physical Anthropology have found there are distinct differences in how fingerprint ridges split between people of European and African ancestry.

According to Professor Ann Ross, an anthropologist at North Carolina State University, ‘This is the first study to look at this issue at this level of detail, and the findings are extremely promising.

A lot of additional work needs to be done, but this holds promise for helping law enforcement.

‘This finding also tells us that there’s a level of variation in fingerprints that is of interest to anthropologists, particularly in the area of global population structures.’

In the study carried out on 243 people consisting of male and female of African American and European American descent, they looked at both the level one details, such as pattern types and ridge counts, and the level two details, which are more specific variations such as bifurcations – where ridges split – ridge endings and other structures. 

At the end, it was discovered the level two which was important for ancestry was for total bifurcations.

‘The frequency of total number of bifurcations differed significantly between groups with African Americans showing a higher frequency of this trait,’ said Ross.

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