The Classification of
Fingerprint Types & Dermatoglyphics

The oldest models for classifying fingerprint types were probably presented at the end of the 18th century. But the significance of the so-called 'deltas' (triridii) was first described by Galton in the late 19th century. Below follows an overview of some milestones in fingerprint type classification.

The works presented by Purkinje, Galton, Midlo, and the F.B.I. represent milestones in the history of fingerprint type classification.

- Purkinje's 9 Fingerprint Groups -

Jan Evangelista Purkinje (1787-1869), a Czech physiologist and professor of anatomy at the University of Breslau, published in 1823 a thesis discussing 9 fingerprint pattern types.

Jan Evangelista Purkinje (17871869). Purkinje's 9 fingerprint patterns.

- Galton's 3 Basic Fingerprint Types -

Sir Francis Galton (1822-1911), an English polymath and anthropologist, published a detailed statistical model of fingerprint analysis and identification and encouraged its use in forensic science in his book 'Finger Prints'.

Galton was the first who defined the three basic fingerprint types in terms of the number of 'deltas' - discriminating whorls (2 deltas) from: loops (1 delta), and arches (no deltas).

Galton's 3 basis fingerprint type patterns: whorl - loop - arch. Sir Francis Galton (18221911).

- A 'family tree' of Fingerprint Types -

Dr. Harold Cummins (1894-1976) achieved world recognition as the "Father of Dermatoglyphics" or the scientific study of skin ridge patterns found on the palms of human hands. The findings of his lifetime studies and the techniques he developed, known as the Cummins Methodology, are accepted as important tools in tracing genetic and evolutionary relationships. The methodology has gained common usage in diagnosis of some types of mental retardation, schizophrenia, cleft palate and even heart disease.

In the book 'Finger Prints, Palms and Soles' (1943) he e.g. presented a 'family tree' of 39 fingerprint types (click on the image in order to see the details of this 'family tree').

Harold Cummins. A family tree of fingerprint types.

- The F.B.I. uses 8 Fingerprint Sub-Groups -

The American F.B.I. (Federal Bureau of Investigation) presented in 1985 the book 'The Science of Fingerprints', which describes 8 sub-groups of fingerprint types (based on Galton's 3 large general groups of ingerprint patterns). By 1946, the F.B.I. had processed 100 million fingerprint cards in manually maintained files; and by 1971, 200 million cards.

Galton's 3 basis fingerprint type patterns: whorl - loop - arch. The Federal Bureau of Investigation.

- Advanced approach involving 18 pattern types! -

In 2016 a brand new approach became available which e.g. makes it possible to discriminate various types of radial patterns from ulnar patterns.

Some of the principles may appear to look new at first sight, but the detailed principles used to discriminate 'distal whorls' (most common) from 'proximal whorls' have actually been known since the days of Francis Galton when he presented his classic work 'Finger Prints' in 1892 (see plate 11 - fig. 17, between page 80 & 81).

The details involved with the new advanced approach featuring 18 different fingerprint pattern types are outlined inside the article:
'Fingerprints & Behavior: Advanced Explorations involving Personality & Temperament!'.

Distribution of fingerprint patterns in the Big Five personality dimensions Neuroticism & Extraversion, plus the four classic temperaments.

How do fingerprints relate to the sexes? ...more.

Martijn van Mensvoort - Hand Research

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