Dactyloscopy : Greek dactylo (finger or toe) + scopy (observation)
Dactyloscopy is the study of the ridges on the inner surfaces of the hand and foot. For over a century, it has been a recognised method of identifying individuals because the characteristics of the hand and foot prints are unique.
A dactyloscopy expert examines fingerprints and uses them to identify individuals by comparing their fingerprints. These particularly trained forensic experts compare the features of distinct fingerprints with each other and can thus discover matches, which may assist to identify a person.
For the first time, fingerprints were used to identify people in the mid-nineteenth century. Sir William James Herschel, a Britishman, introduced a system for comparing fingerprints in India to avoid the repeated payment of pensions, and he later used the system to manage his prison. He was the first to propose that fingerprints were unique and changed only slightly with age based on the large data set he had obtained. At the same time, Henry Faulds, a British physician, discovered the uniqueness of fingerprints in Japan and proposed using them to identify criminals.
Francis Galton, a British scientist, confirmed in the late nineteenth century that the ridges on the fingertips are permanent and varies from person to person, allowing them to be used to identify people.
For the first time, a murder case in Argentina could be solved using dactyloscopy in 1892. In the United Kingdom, dactyloscopy was introduced as a classification and identification system in 1901, and in Germany in 1903. In France, dactyloscopy defeated bertillonage in 1914 after the perpetrator of the Mona Lisa robbery at the Louvre in 1911 could not be identified despite fingerprints left at the scene.
Human finger tips have ridges that allow them to grip smooth objects. They develop in the womb during prenatal development (3rd to 5th month), and their development is influenced by environmental factors. The ridges differ even between twins as a result of these effects. Even after injuries, the lines and fine features remain for a lifetime and can only be permanently altered by burns or scarring.
Comparing minutiae allows for a more detailed distinction of fingerprints. A minutia is an anatomical characteristic of the ridges. The most common minutiae are ridge endings and ridge bifurcations. A person’s fingers contain a large number of minutiae. In Germany, 12 matching characteristics on a finger suffice to identify a person in court. In the United States, however, if the basic pattern of the fingerprints matches simultaneously, 8 matching characteristics are sufficient for identification.