Biological variability of the minutiae in the fingerprints of a sample of the Spanish population

Forensic Sci Int. 2007 Oct 25;172(2-3):98-105. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2006.12.013. Epub 2007 Feb 7.


The minutiae, a term coined by Galton to refer to the small peculiarities present along the length of every isolated ridge, or characteristic points, a term used primarily by the Spanish Police Scientists, have an inter- and intrapopulation variability which has not been extensively studied. However, these peculiarities constitute the bases for the fingerprint identification of individuals in the field of criminology. Using the adhesive paper and graphite method, the fingerprints of 200 students, 100 males and 100 females, with ages ranging between 20 and 35, have been taken at the University of Alcala (Madrid). From this sample, the distal phalanx of the index finger of the right hand has been studied. The total count of the minutiae, as well as that of each different type, was made of the entire print area, and inside and outside of a circle with a radius of 18 ridges. The highest frequencies were of ridge endings, followed by bifurcations and convergences, all others appearing with frequencies of lower than 5%. The distribution of the minutiae was not homogeneous for the area of the fingerprint (inside and outside the circle). In the study of minutiae statistically significant differences were found between the sexes, and between the different types of general pattern (arches, loops, and whorls).

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dermatoglyphics / classification*
  • Female
  • Fingers / anatomy & histology*
  • Forensic Sciences / methods
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sex Factors
  • Skin / anatomy & histology*
  • Spain