Ear piercing affects earprints: the role of ear piercing in human identification

J Forensic Sci. 2005 Mar;50(2):386-92.


Previous research conducted into the use of the human ear in the field of forensic identification has focused upon the use of grids and manual methods to measure and catalogue the different anatomical features of the ear. To date, few have considered the importance of the presence of ear piercings and their possible role in human identification. This study aims to highlight the common distribution of piercings of both ears in both genders and to explore the effect of piercings on earprints. The presence of a piercing may, in part, help to explain why partial and not whole earprints are sometimes recovered from a scene of crime (suggesting that the offender's ears may be pierced). The presence of piercings through the tragus and the superior part of the helix are shown to be infrequent and thus may be used to assist the identification of a body, due to its relative rarity with respect to piercings found in other areas of the ear.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Piercing*
  • Ear / anatomy & histology*
  • Female
  • Forensic Medicine / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sex Factors