What are the most important fingerprint types?
The most detailed system for fingerprint classification was presented in 1985 by the F.B.I.'s "The Science of Fingerprint". In the F.B.I. system 8 types of fingerprints are described: 2 arch variants, 2 loop variants, and 4 whorl variants - see the picture below.
However, since 1985 researchers have continued to use various other approaches to classify the most common fingerprint variants. Usually the 4 most common variants of these 8 types (arches, radial loops, ulnar loops & whorls) are discriminated. And because these 4 most common variants are easy to discriminate from eachother, we will focuss on the prevalence of only these variants around the world.
Which is the most common fingerprint type in the world?
The table below shows fingerprint distribution results for 21 countries, displaying that in 19 of the 21 populations the LOOPS are the most common fingerprint pattern type. Only in the populations from China, India & New Guinea are WHORLS more common than LOOPS.
The 'pattern index' for Brazil, France, India, Israel, Kenya, The Netherlands, Nigeria, Tanzania & Yemen is exactly within the expected range (according the 1953 map), and for China, Costa Rica, England, Iran, New Guinea, Thailand, Venezuela & Vietnam it is (very) close to the expected range. For Japan & Korea the values are clearly below (though not far away) the expected range; only the 'pattern index' for the US is significantly lower and not meeting the expectations according the 1953 map.
And as expected:
- the highest 'pattern index' is found in New Guinea;
- all reported African countries (Nigeria, Kenya & Tanzania) present results that clearly show a low 'pattern index'.
Only for the USA is the 'pattern index' clearly much lower than expected; and for Argentina is the 'pattern index' clearly higher than expected.
NOTICE: Interestingly, only the 'pattern index' of the England population is (slightly) higher than the expected range; but in 8 countries the 'pattern index' is lower than expected. This could indicate... that during the past decades the percentage of 'whorls' have become slightly smaller in many populations around the world - because whorls have the highest weight in the 'pattern index'! However, there is no clear evidence that this tendency is more obvious for the more recent samples (4 out of 9 samples in the 21 century still follow the guidelines presented in the map, but none of the other 5 samples is higher than the expected range: all 5 samples are lower).
When this tendency is confirmed in the future this could make sense in the perspective of Darwin's evolution theory - because WHORLS are already known to be less common in humans than in primates. Time will tell!
The reported results around the world show a very high correlation with the 1953 Fingerprint World Map! The percentages indicate that LOOPS are seen in a small majority (53%) of all fingers around the world; this tendency is confirmed in 18 out of the 21 populations. WHORLS are only sometimes more common than loops; only 2 out of 21 populations have more WHORLS than LOOPS), but for WHORLS the percentage rarely is higher than 50% (for New Guinea the WHORL percentage is 55%).
Finally, it is remarkable that almost half of the populations show (clearly) lower percentages than expected according the 1953 Fingerprint World Map. Only one of the older samples (England: samples from 1943, 1964 & 1983) shows percentage above the expected range according the map.
NOTICE: Countries in the table below are ranked by WHORL percentage; 'double loop whorls', 'plain whorls', 'central pocket loop whorls' and 'accidental whorls' are grouped as WHORLS; and 'plain arches' & 'tented arches' grouped as ARCHES.
* Percentages are weighted according world population statistics in the year 2000.
NOTICE: Six out the 10 most populous countries in the world today are represented. For half of those countries (China, US & Japan) the statistics indicate that the number of WHORLS has dropped in those countries during the past decade; only for India, Brazil & Nigeria the statistics are within the expected range according the 1953 Fingerprint World Map.
1) Dermatoglyphics of the Fore and Anga populations of the Eastern Highlands of New Guinea (C.C. Plato & D.C. Gajdusek, 1972);
2) Dermatoglyphic changes during the population admixture between Kam and Han Chinese (Xu Cheng et al., 2009);
3) Dermatoglyph groups Kinh Vietnamese to Mon-Khmer (Hui Li et al., 2006);
4) Dermatoglyphics: An International Perspective (J. Mavalwala, 1978);
5) Dermatoglyphs of Klinefelter's syndrome (Hiroshi Shiono, 1977);
6) Dermatoglyphic Characteristics of Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis (Sung-Bae Hwang et al., 2005);
7) Dermatoglyphic Traits in Thai Schizophrenia Patients: A Matching Case-Control Study (Suwanna Arunpongpaisal et al., 2011);
8) Dermatoglyphics: comparison between Negritos Orang Asliand the Malays, Chinese and Indian (E. Ismail et al., 2009);
9) Finger Dermatoglyphic variations in Rengma Nagas of Nagaland India (S.D. Banik et al., 2009);
10) Study of the Fingertip Pattern as a Tool for the Identification of the Dermatoglyphic Trait in Bronchial Asthma (S.V. Pakhale et al., 2012);
11) Dermatoglyphic sexual dimorphism in Middle Eastern Jews (S. Micle & E. Kobyliansky, 1987);
12) Dermatoglyphic sexual dimorphism in Yemenite Jews (S. Micle & E. Kobyliansky, 1987);
13) A study of Iranaian Muslims - Part 1: Finger patterns and ridge-counts (M. Mehdipour & D.D. Farhud, 1978);
14) A study on the dermatoglyphic patterns of Okrika and Ikwerre ethnic groups of Nigeria (E.A. Osunwoke et al., 2008);
15) Dermatoglyphic in a large normal sample of Caucasoids from Southern Brazil (E. de F. Penhalber et al., 1994);
16) The use of dermal configurations in the diagnosis of mongolism (F. Walker, 1958);
17) Dermatoglyphics in Medical Disorders (B. Schaumann & M. Alter, 1976);
18) Dermatoglyphic patterns in dementia of the Alzheimer type: a case-control study (C. Berr et al., 1992);
19) Vingerlijsten - Het Lot in Eigen Hand, in: Natuur & Techniek (4) (A.G. de Wilde, 1986);
20) Finger prints, Palms and Soles (H. Cummins & C. Midlo, 1943);
21) Fingerprint-patterns in mongolism (S. Holt, 1964);
22) Quantitative Dermatoglyphics (D.Z. Loesch, 1983);
23) The Genetic Structure of a Tribal Population, the Yanomama Indians. VIII. Dermatoglyphic Differences among Villagess (F. Rothhammer et al., 1973);
24) Dermatoglyphic traits of six Chibcha-speaking Amerindians of Costa Rica, and an assessment of the genetic affinities among populations (Maia Segura - WW Ramiro Barrantes, 2009);
25) Palmar and digital dermatoglyphic traits of Kenyan and Tanzanian subjects (P.S. Igbigbi & B.C. Msamati, 2005);
26) An Exploration of Fingerprint Patterns and Their Concordance Among Thai Adolescents (S. Nanakorn, W. Kutanan & K. Chusilp, 2013);
27) Polynesian Finger Prints : Ellice Islanders (A. M. O. Veale and W. E. Adams, 1968);
28) Finger-Prints of the New Zealand Maori (A. M. O. Veale and W. E. Adams, 1965);
* Resulting from weights according world population statistics in the year 2000.
The results in the table show that in all populations in each of the 10 fingers the ulnar loop or the whorl is always the most common fingerprint pattern type in any country around the world.
In both the right hand and the left hand the ulnar loop on the pinky is found in a large majority of 21 out of 23 populations; this trend is only not seen New Zealand Maori and Ellice Islands people. A likewise trend is seen in the middle finger, though in the populations of New Zealand Maori, Ellice Islands and New Guinea the whorl is more common on the middle finger of both hands.
This makes the whorl the most dominant pattern on the ring finger, the thumb & and the index finger in far most populations .
Interestingly, this also implicates that a common similarity between the 23 populations is a high prevalance of the so-called 'universal distribution' for the 10 fingers:
Right hand (thumb to pinky):__ whorl - whorl - ulnar loop - whorl - ulnar loop;
Left hand (thumb to pinky):___ whorl - whorl - ulnar loop - whorl - ulnar loop.
Usually this distribution belongs to the TOP 10 most common fingerprint combinations seen around the world:
- 8th position (3.2%) British sample (N=600), where UL-UL-UL-UL-UL (17.3%) is by far most common;
- 7th position (3.7%) in a Thai study (N=2134), where UL-UL-UL-UL-UL (11.2%) is most common;
- 3th position (6.2%) in an Ellice Islands population, where W-W-W-W-W (30.8%) is extremely dominant;
- 11th position (2.4%) in New Zealand Maori, where W-W-W-W-W (31.7%) is extremely dominant.
NOTICE: In all 4 of these populations the 'universal distribution' turns out to be less common than both the UL-UL-UL-UL-UL and W-W-W-W-W; but next to these two combinations only the W-W-W-W-U distribution is also consistenly more common, so the 'universal distribution' could very well turn out to represent the 4th most common distribution around the world!
So, the 'universal distribution' clearly doesn't represent the most common distribution around the world; various studies indicate that UL-UL-UL-UL-UL represents the most common distribution in far most countries, only in a small number of populations W-W-W-W-W is most common.
Finally, it is interesting to notice that the 'white' populations show by far the largest variation compared to the 'universal distribution':
- the population from the USA displays differentations on five aspects;
- and the population from UK displays differentiations on six aspects.
This indicates that any fingerprint combination in an individual can only be described as 'significant' when it shows at least seven differences with the 'universal distribution'. If there are six or less differences, the combination of the 10 fingerprints can very likely be described as likely falling within the 'common' variations.
Finally, one should also consider the normal distribution of the four pattern types: radial loops are typically seen on the index finger only, while arches are typically seen on the index finger and/or middle finger only + in neighbour-combinations with one of these two fingers.
Read more about: the role of fingerprints & dermatoglyphics in Multi-Perspective Palm Reading.