Most of the surface of the human body contains a very specific pattern of hair follicles. However, the surface of the hands, fingers, and feet do not have this pattern. During fetal development, these areas instead produce a pattern of ridges on the skin, unique to each individual. The science of studying these skin ridge patterns is called dermatoglyphics.
Dermatoglyphics largely focuses on fingerprints, which are unique patterns formed by embossed lines on the surface of the skin, as well as the lines displayed on the palms of hands and the bottoms of feet. The main focus, though, stays on the fingertips. Researchers use the following terms to describe certain dermatoglyphic phenomena:
● Triradius, or delta: This term refers to the place where there is a convergence of three parallel groups of papillary lines.
● Scoreboard: The number of of lines from the center of the fingertip pattern to the triradius.
● Arc, Loop, and Curl: These are types of fingerprint patterns. An “arc” pattern has an absence of a triradius. “Loop” patterns have one triradius. Those with “Curl” patterns have two triradiuses.
● Delta index: The delta index is a number indicating the total number of triradiuses on all fingers.
Fingerprints are formed during the thirteenth week of gestation, right as the nervous system is developing. Because they develop simultaneously, they are affected by the same embryonic growth factors. This creates an inseparable link between properties of the central nervous system and dermatoglyphic features. A number of studies have confirmed that fingerprints are accurate morphological and genetic markers for human being’s physical, constitutional, and psychophysiological features.
The first and most common use of fingerprints is as a personal identifier, most often used by forensic scientists. Forensic scientists began to discover many correlations between fingertip patterns and human behavior. This eventually became the field of psychological dermatoglyphics, which helps establish motives and create forensic personality models for investigative activities.
Over the years, large amounts of research and papers on the subject of dermatoglyphics have been published, as well as information on its uses in investigative and judicial proceedings. Data analysis methods have been utilized in order to create specialized fields of dermatoglyphics in different areas of research. Dermatoglyphics can be used for more than identification, and is regularly used as a tool for diagnosis, characterization of individuals, psychological profiles, and behavioral analyses.
Currently, dermatoglyphics is widespread in more than just criminology. Many experts in the field of sports utilize dermatoglyphics in order to determine an individual’s innate athletic capabilities. It is also used by medical doctors in order to detect congenital diseases of the nervous system. Physical anthropology also makes use of dermatoglyphics on a broad scale in order to attempt to discern the kinship relationships between various races and peoples.
The study of human fingerprint patterns is extremely exciting. With its numerous practical uses, it has become indispensable to our daily lives, even if we don’t realize it. As more research is done on dermatoglyphics, it becomes clearer all the time how important our fingerprints our to our health, identities, and daily existence.