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Can Two People Have the Same Fingerprint?

We may not be 100% unique, but we're pretty close. The chance that someone shares your exact fingerprints is about 1 in 64 billion. This estimate was figured by Sir Francis Galton, Charles Darwin's cousin, in 1888. The techniques Galton used to identify fingerprint characteristics, known as Galton's Details, still are used today.

Just the facts, ma'am:

  • The Argentinian police were the first officials to start fingerprint files based on Galton's Details.

  • Juan Vucetich, a member of the Argentinian police force, was the first to identify a criminal based on fingerprint identification — he identified a woman who had murdered her sons, and afterward had cut her own throat to try to blame it on someone else. Vucetich caught her because she left a bloody fingerprint on a door frame.

  • Fingerprints from crime scenes result in more identified suspects and court evidence than all other forensic analysis combined.

  • Footprints and toe prints are as unique as fingerprints and are often used as identifying characteristics as well.

  • Fingerprints can reveal drug use — the oils secreted and left in the print contain residues of whatever substances may be in the body.
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