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What are fingerprints?

We look at fingerprints, what they are and how they are formed.

We begin with an introduction to fingerprints.

As a biometric, fingerprints were one of the very first methods used in police investigations and the possibility that they may be used as a means of identification goes back to around 1880 when Dr Henry Faulds (who studied at University of Strathclyde when it was know as Anderson’s University) is widely credited with first making the suggestion.

Here we’re going to look at some terminology and distinguish between fingerprints (known source) and fingermarks (unknown source). We will also explore how friction ridges are formed and you should look at chapter 2 and 3 of the US fingerprint sourcebook in the ‘see also’ resource link below to see some great images associated with embryonic fingerprint development. Chapter 1 of the US fingerprint sourcebook will also provide you with some more historical context for fingerprints and their examination.

The UK fingerprint source book also provides some historical information in chapter 2 as well as some general information about enhancement and visualisation of fingerprints.

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Introduction to Forensic Science

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