DERMATOGLYPHICS is the scientific study of the carvings on the fingertips, soles and the feet. The term Dermatoglyphics is derived from Greek - 'derma' which means skin and 'glyph' which means carvings. This field of science has been evolving since 1892, when Sir Francis Galton, who was the half-cousin of Charles Darwin, was the first to identify common pattern in fingerprints and place the study on a scientific footing by devising a classification system that survives to this day. Galton pointed out that there were specific types of fingerprint patterns. In 1893, he described and classified them into eight broad categories:

  1. Plain arch
  2. Tented arch
  3. Simple loop
  4. Central pocket loop
  5. Double loop
  6. Lateral pocket loop
  7. Plain whorl and
  8. Accidental.

In 1926, Dr. Harold Cummins was the first to coin the term -'Dermatoglyphics' for the study of fingerprints and is considered to be the father of modern Dermatoglyphics.

In 1969, Dr. John Mulvihill and Dr. David W Smith, published a research on the different stages of formation of finger grains of babies in the womb. They found that skin ridges begin to form from the 13th week and are completely formed by the 24th week. This formation is in tandem with the creation of the embryo's network of neurons in the brain.

These patterns have some distinct features.

  • UNIQUE - These patterns are unique to the individual and no two fingerprints are the same. Within the 10 fingerprints, no two fingers are the same. Each finger has its own unique pattern and ridge count.
  • INVARIANCE - These patterns do not change over a life time. You are born with a set of prints and you die with the same prints.
  • HEREDITARY - We inherit most of the characteristics from our parents when we are born and we will have one fingerprint that will match with one print of any one of our parents.