The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

Population Variation of Level 2 Detail in Dermatoglyphics: A Study of Heritability and Environmental Influence


Sociology and Anthropology, North Carolina State University

Saturday Afternoon, Ballroom B Add to calendar

Dermatoglyphics have been studied extensively in physical anthropology to examine the heritability of friction skin traits and between population variation. The majority of the previous studies have tested these relationships on level 1 detail (e.g. pattern type, total ridge count). Therefore, the results are largely irrelevant in the field of forensic science, where identifications are made based on level 2 and 3 details (e.g. minutiae and pores, respectively). The present study applies the methodologies developed in physical anthropology for quantifying fingerprint traits of level 1 features, which have been found to be strongly heritable, to level 2 details and tests whether population variation will be upheld at the minutia level, where environmental factors in the womb influence development. Five types of minutia, or Galton Details, were analyzed and include bifurcations, ending ridges, short ridges, dots, and enclosures. The right index finger of a total of 120 individuals (30 African American females; 30 African American males; 30 European American females; 30 European American males) was examined using Spex PrintQuest, divided into four quadrants and each type of minutia was visually counted. The ANOVA results show that the total number of bifurcations on each individual differs significantly (p-value = 0.030) between sex and ancestry. No other minutia type was significantly different. Results of each minutia type in each of the four quadrants will be presented. By using level 2 detail, the results of this study will be relevant to both anthropological and forensic contexts.

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