FingerprintingHave you ever had your fingerprints taken? It's a great idea to do this, because if you ever wander off or get lost, your parents will have a record of your fingerprints to give to the police.  You will also be able to identify the different finger print patterns that you have.

Fact:  Fingerprints are unique. Not even identical twins have the same fingerprints. Take a minute to look at your own fingertip and notice all the ridges and swirls. Now, look at someone else’s fingertips. Can you tell the difference? Take a minute to look at the seven different fingerprint patterns that are used to identify people. You can compare your own fingerprints to these patterns and see which one looks most like your own!

Prints All Over the Place

Collecting fingerprints is not that hard to do at home. Some fingerprints are visible - you can see marks left on a surface by dirty or oily fingers. Dusting is usually used for this type. Other prints are latent - you can't see them, but there are marks left by sweat and other remains from fingers. Fuming is often used for these.

If you have a magnifying glass, inspect your fingers. The unique patterns on your fingertips are caused by ridges in the dermis, the bottom layer of your skin. These patterns are fully developed two months before you are even born!

Fingerprint patternPatterns

The three typical patterns are loops, whorls, and arches.  Your fingerprints are different than anyone else's, but did you know that fingerprint patterns tend to run in the family? If your fingerprints are a whorled pattern, one of your parents probably has a whorled pattern, too. It's just not exactly like yours!

Dusting for fingerprints

To dust for fingerprints, sprinkle talcum powder or cornstarch on dark surfaces and cocoa powder on light surfaces, like the outside of a drinking glass, where there are visible prints. You can use a small paint or makeup brush with very soft bristles to gently swipe off the excess powder and leave the print. Use clear tape, sticky side down, to lift the print and then stick it to an opposite-coloured paper. What kinds of patterns do you see?


Another method for collecting fingerprints is called fuming. Certain chemical fumes react with the sweat and other organic residue left in latent fingerprints. The strong chemical fumes react with the residue from your fingers. Professionals use ninhydrin and silver nitrate powder developed under a UV light.

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