Frequently Asked Questions
about Fingerprints


Updated 24 March 2013


The FAQs on this page have resulted from the most common questions the Webmaster has received in recent years.

Click here to post new questions on a Forum (not this page).  Please search the Forum before posting... most questions posted have been previously answered.

The answers on this page come from several sources, including Certified Latent Print Examiners and Fellows of The Fingerprint Society.  Insofar as possible, content conforms with guidelines of the International Association for Identification (IAI) and the FBI Laboratory-sponsored Scientific Working Group on Friction Ridge Analysis, Study and Technology (SWGFAST).  Officially though, these answers do not purport to represent anything other than Ed German's general topic answers about fingerprints. 

Comments and suggestions are welcome.

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    q1es
    The two basic ideas scientists believe about fingerprints are: 
     
    • Fingerprints never change.  Small ridges form on a baby's hands and feet before they are born.  The ridges grow larger as the person grows, but the overall shapes and location on the fingers do not change for as long as the person lives. 
       
    • No two fingerprints are alike.  The ridges on the hands and feet of all persons have three characteristics (ridge endings, bifurcations and dots) which appear in combinations that are never repeated on the hands or feet of any two persons. A ridge ending is simply the end of a ridge (also known as an ending ridge).  A bifurcation is a Y-shaped split of one ridge into two ridges.  A dot is a very short ridge that looks like a "dot."
     John Q. Public's Answer        Police Officer's Answer
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Universal Latent Workstation graphic The Universal Latent Workstation is the first in a new generation of interoperable latent workstations. Several state and local agencies, the FBI, NIST, and the AFIS vendors have been working together on standards to improve interoperability and sharing of latent identification services. The ULW is part of that program. It helps agencies and AFIS vendors understand and develop the concept of encode once and search anywhere. With the ULW you can create a native feature set for Printrak, Cogent, Morpho, NEC and IAFIS. Ultimately, standards-based workstations, such as the ULW, will provide you with the ability to search local, state, neighboring and the FBI IAFIS system, all with a single encoding.

Additional information regarding ULW in PDF format, (pdf 106k)

Additional information regarding ULW (HTML Version)


remote fingerprint editing graphic The Remote Fingerprint Editing Software provides the fingerprint identification community with a free and complete software package to perform remote searches into the FBI's IAFIS. RFES supports all remote IAFIS transactions to include image and features-based searches for both latent and ten-print fingerprints. RFES editing and human interface were developed based on use and advice of both local law enforcement and FBI latent specialists.

Additional information regarding RFES in PDF format. (pdf 134k)


 
 
 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 
 
 
 
 


 
 
 
 
 


 
 
 
 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 
 


 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 
 
 
   


 

 

 

 

 

 

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Postings on this page and elsewhere at OnIn.com do NOT purport to represent the position or opinion of the US Army Criminal Investigation Command, US Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory, any component of the US Government or any organization with which the Webmaster is or has been associated.

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