April 19, 20014 update:

Fingerprint combinations in congenital heart disease, Down syndrome, mental retardation & autistic spectrum disorder (a.k.a. autism) are presented at the bottom of this article!

Fingerprint combinations in international populations.

What can Fingerprint Distributions
on the 5 Fingers reveal?

Fingerprint distributions on the 5 fingers. In this section a new approach is introduced for studying the significance of the most common distributions of the 4 major fingerprint types on the five fingers. The fingerprint on the pointer finger will serve as a starting point, because multiple evidences indicates that this finger appears to be have the most 'individualized' fingerprint of all 5 five finger. NEW: The second part presents a description of the 14 most common 'single hand' fingerprint combinations!

There are various systems to classify fingerprint types. However, based on the location of the triradius one can discriminate 4 major fingerprint types: the 'whorl' (featured two triradii: one at both sides), the 'ulnar loop' (featured with one triradius on the thumb side), the 'radial loop' (featured with one triradius on the pinky side) & the 'arch' (featured with no triradius at all). All other fingerprint types can be grouped in one of these 4 major fingerprint types as well (by considering the position of the triradius).

- Why is the pointer finger important? -

Studies have revealed that fingerprints are not commonly distributed among all 5 fingers. The picture below displays the prevalence of the four fingerprint types in 5 world populations (males & females in populations from in respective: US, UK, China, Iran & Nigeria).

NOTICE: More details are presented in the article: The Fingerprints World Map.

Sexe differences in fingerprint pattern type: males versus females.

First of all, the picture above shows that in most populations around the world the 'ulnar loop' is (by far) the most common fingerprint type. And in nearly all populations the 'ulnar loop' is least commonly seen in the index finger (and most common in the pinky finger).

Additionally, both the 'radial loop' and the 'arch' are most commonly seen in the index finger (and usually least common in the pinky finger).

Secondly, sexe differences in fingerprints typically manifest in the prevalence of arches & whorls. The data in the picture above shows that the sexe differences - especially for arches - are by far the smallest in the pointer finger (and the size of sexe-effects are the largest in the pinky finger).

And finally, ethnic difference in fingerprint manifest in the distribution of all four fingerprint types. Using the averages for the males and females, the picture above shows that the ethnic variation in the prevalence of all four fingerprint types is the smallest in the index finger (and the size of the ethnic variation for whorls and radial loops is the largest in the pinky finger).


The index finger displays not only the largest variation for the four fingerprint types, additionally the effects for sexe and ethnicity are the smallest in this finger. And the reversed pattern is seen for the pinky finger: in all populations (all groups of males & females in all 5 populations) a very large majority has an 'ulnar loop' on the pinky finger.

- The 14 most common 'single-hand' fingerprint combinations among 6 international populations! -

The picture below present an overview of the most common fingerprints combinations on the 5 fingers of a single hand among 6 populations: Americans (US), British (UK), Dutch (Netherlands), Thai (Thailand), Maori (New Zealand) and Ellice Islanders (Polynesia). 14 Fingerprint combinations are displayed inside the picture; in each of the 6 populations these 14 combinations together represent more than 50% (up to more than 75%) of all hands.

The distribution of combinations displays that in the studied Americans, British & Dutch samples the distribution is similar, with two loop-combinations (UL-UL-UL-UL-UL and UL-RL-UL-UL-UL) covering about 25% of each sample!

However, in Maori and Ellice Islanders - which are know to represent some of the most 'whorled' populations in the world - two whorl-combinations (W-W-W-W-W and W-W-W-W-UL) cover even about 45% of each sample!

This implicates that the distribution of patterns tends to vary significantly in populations around the worlds, and for only 3 combinations (UL-UL-UL-UL-UL, W-UL-UL-UL-UL and W-W-UL-W-UL) the prevalence in each of the 6 populations was found to be higher than 2%; additionally there are also 5 combinations where this criteria is met in 5 out of 6 populations.

Finally, one can also derive from the data that in terms of the major fingerprints categories one can expect more than 50% of the hands to display 5 or 4 fingerprint types of the same major category!!!

NOTICE: In line with the FBI system the major category 'whorls' include: plain whorls, central pocket loops, double loops, and accidental whorls; most variations inside each of these sub-categories include two triradii, while in arches, ulnar and radial loops this characteristic is always missing.

More about fingerprints? ...more.

Fingerprint combinations in international populations.

- Fingerprint distributions in 6 international populations: the TOP 15 'five fingers' combinations! -

NOTICE: The colors inside the table below refer to single patterns that are present in all 7 international populations!

(N=598 hands)

(N=1200 hands)

(N=600 hands)

(N=4268 hands)

(N=430 hands)

New-Zeal. Maori
(N=432 hands)

Ellice Islanders
(N=228 hands)

UUUUU: 15.5% UUUUU: 17.3% UUUUU: 17.0% UUUUU: 11.3% WWWWW: 16.1% WWWWW: 31.7% WWWWW: 30.8%
URUUU: 9.4% URUUU: 10.5% URUUU: 10.5% WWWWW: 7.5% WWWWU: 13.5% WWWWU: 13.1% WWWWU: 17.9%
UAUUU: 7.5% UUUWU: 6.7% WUUUU: 5.5% WUUUU: 5.9% UUUUU: 9.3% UUUUU: 5.5% WWUWU: 6.3%
UUUWU: 5.4% UWUUU: 5.0% WWWWU: 5.3% UUUWU: 5.1% UWWWU: 7.2% UWWWU: 5.4% WWUWW: 6.2%
WWUWU: 4.7% WWWWW: 3.8% WWWWW: 5.3% WUUWU: 4.8% WWUWU: 6.3% UWWWW: 4.2% WWUUU: 4.0%
WWUUU: 4.5% WUUUU: 3.5% WWUUU: 4.2% WWWWU: 4.0% WUUUU: 4.4% WWUWW: 3.8% WUUUU: 3.1%
WUUUU: 3.9% WWUWU: 3.2% WWUWU: 4.0% WWUWU: 3.7% UWUUU: 4.2% UUUWU: 3.5% UUUUU: 3.1%
UWUUU: 2.8% WWWWU: 3.2% UUUWU: 3.8% WWUWW: 2.4% UWUWU: 4.2% WUUUU: 3.2% UWUUU: 1.8%
WRUUU: 2.7% UAUUU: 3.2% UWUUU: 3.3% UAUUU: 2.4% UUUWU: 4.0% UWUWU: 2.7% WUUWU: 1.8%
WUUWU: 2.5% WRUUU: 3.0% UWUWU: 3.3% WWUUU: 2.2% UWUWW: 2.8% WUUWU: 2.5% UWWWU: 1.8%
UWUWU: 2.2% UWWWU: 2.7% WRUUU: 3.3% UWUWU: 1.7% WWUUU: 2.7% WWUWU: 1.8% UWWWW: 1.8%
WRUWU: 2.2% WWUUU: 2.5% WUUWU: 2.8% URUUU: 1.7% WUUWU: 2.3% WUUWW: 1.7% WUWWU: 1.3%
WWWWW: 1.7% WUUWU: 2.3% WRUWU: 2.8% WUUWW: 1.6% WWUWW: 2.3% UWUWW: 1.7% WWWUU: 1.3%
UAAUUU: 1.7% WWUWW: 2.0% UAUUU: 2.5% UWUUU: 1.5% UWWWW: 2.3% WUWWW: 1.5% UUUWU: 0.9%
WWUWW: 1.5% URUWU: 1.5% UWWWU: 1.8% UWWWW: 1.5% WWWUU: 1.4% WWUUU: 1.4% UAUUU: 0.9%
Other combinations:
Other combinations:
Other combinations:
Other combinations:
Other combinations:
Other combinations:
Other combinations:

- Fingerprint distributions in 4 disorder populations:

The TOP 15 'five fingers' fingerprint combinations in congenital heart disease,
Down syndrome, mental retardation & autistic spectrum disorder! -

NOTICE: Combinations which are not present inside the table above are colored red inside the table below;
the other colors refer to patterns that are present in all 7 international populations listed in the table above!

Congenital heart defects
(N=104 American hands)

Down syndrome
(N=726 American hands)

Mental retardation
(N=562 American hands)

Autistic spectrum disorder
(N=58 white hands, mostly Dutch)

UUUUU: 14.4% UUUUU: 47.1% UUUUU: 15.8% WWWWW: 10.3%
URUUU: 8.7% WUUUU: 8.8% URUUU: 6.4% WWWWU: 10.3%
WWWWW: 7.7% UUUWU: 4.7% WUUUU: 5.9% WWUWW: 8.6%
UAUUU: 6.7% WUUWW: 3.2% WWWWW: 5.3% URUUU: 8.6%
WWUWU: 5.8% UUURU: 2.2% WWWWU: 5.0% WUUUU: 5.2%
UAAUU: 4.8% WUUWU: 2.5% UAUUU: 5.0% UAAUU: 5.2%
UAAAU: 3.9% UAUUU: 2.1% UWUWU: 4.3% WRUUU: 5.2%
UUUWU: 2.9% WWWWU: 1.2% UWUUU: 3.9% WWUWU: 3.4%
UWUUU: 2.9% WWWWW: 0.8% WWUUU: 3.9% UWUWU: 3.4%
UWWWU: 2.9% UWUUU: 0.8% WWUWU: 2.9% WRUWU: 3.4%
UWWWW: 2.9% WWUUU: 0.7% WRUUU: 2.7% UWWWU: 3.4%
WAUWU: 2.9% URUUU: 0.7% UUUWU: 2.5% UWUUU: 3.4%
WUUWU: 1.9% WWUWU: 0.6% WUUWU: 2.1% WUWWU: 3.4%
WWUWW: 1.9% WWUWW: 0.4% WWUWW: 2.0% UAUUU: 3.4%
AAAAU: 1.9% UWWWU: 0.3% UWWWU: 1.8% UUUWU: 1.7%
Other combinations:
Other combinations:
Other combinations:
Other combinations:

• Do 5-finger fingerprint distribtions in congenital heart defect differ from the general population?

SHORT ANSWER: Occasionally rather unusual combinations are present, but usually not.

LONG ANSWER: In general, the majority of congenital heart cases have fingerprint distributions that do not vary much from the normal population; however, a relatively large minority has rare combinations (see table above). The most a-typical combination observed inside the studied sample concerns an arch-radial loop combination: UAURU (1.9%), where the radial loop on the ring finger could represent a significant clue that can be understood in the perspective of the fact that in Down syndrome - where a majority of people has congenital heart disease - radial loops on the ring fingers represent a relatively common feature. Also, in 7.7% of the hand a combination is present involving 3 different patterns where none of the bordering fingers has the same pattern (which can be recognized to represent a signal of innate stress resulting from a high genetic variation); 5.8% of the cases have this pattern in both hands (indication: this is about 3 to 5 times more common compared to the general populations, where this characteristic in both hands is seen in less than 1.5%).

• Do 5-finger fingerprint distribtions in Down syndrome (a.k.a. 'mongolism') differ from the general population?

SHORT ANSWER: Yes, for sure: there are various rather unusual tendencies (nevertheless, in a large minority these tendencies are not present).

LONG ANSWER: First of all, there is a striking dominance of ulnar loops: typically, in a majority of cases ulnar loops are found on all 5 fingers. Also, the variation on especially the index and middle finger is relately small in Down syndrome: in a very large majority of cases both fingers are featured with an ulnar loop. Additionally, in a small minority of cases there are quite a few extraordinary combinations that are relatively common in Down syndrome - such as the WUUWW (3.2%), UUUWR (1.1%) & UUURW (1.0%) combinations. A radial loop on the ring finger and/or pinky finger concern another typical manifestion in Down syndrome. Finally, combinations with an isolated arch on the ring finger (+ no arches on the other fingers of the same hand) represent another typical tendency for fingerprint distributions in Down syndrome (2.1%).

Double monomorph hands with ulnar loops in all 10 fingers is also a typical characteristic seen in Down syndrome.

• Do 5-finger fingerprint distribtions in mental retardation differ from the general population?

SHORT ANSWER: No, likely not; though monomorph hands in both hands are much more common.

LONG ANSWER: Among the Top 15 combinations in mental retardation there is not a single combination which is not seen in the Western control groups (Americans, British & Dutch); the percentages for the individual combis also do not vary much from similar the Western control groups.

However, the number of retarded individuals displaying double monomorph hands (10 ulnar loops or 10 whorls) is more than twice more common than in control populations.

• Do 5-finger fingerprint distribtions in autistic spectrum disorder (a.k.a. 'autism') differ from the general population?

SHORT ANSWER: Likely yes, but the studied sample is small.

LONG ANSWER: The studied sample displays a strange combination of relatively high percentages for whorl-dominant combinations (which is a-typical for a Western population) combined with high radial loop combinations (which is typical for a European population). Howevery, the studied sample is relatively small; awkwardly, inside the sample there is only 1 hand (1.7%) which has the UUUUU combination - which is typically close to 17% in West-European populations.

Martijn van Mensvoort - Hand Research

© COPYRIGHT 2002-2016:
Martijn van Mensvoort | Contact | Privacy Policy