A fingerprint is an impression of the friction ridges found on the inner surface of a finger or a thumb. The science of fingerprinting constitutes the only unchangeable and infallible means of positive identification known to man.

When humans come in contact with an object or touch it, they leave a proof behind in the form fingerprints – friction ridges of a human finger. Oil and sweat gets collected on these ridges and is transferred to objects, thus leaving a duplicate of the fingerprint pattern. Sometimes, the secretions may seep into an absorbent surface such as a paper, leaving a slight blot. And, sometimes if a finger makes contact with a liquid or a thick substance, such as ink or blood, it may leave a visible print behind. Human fingers, toes, palms and foot soles are naturally covered with friction ridges that help a person in gripping objects and the ground. These ridges are also connected to our nerves, so the individual feels even if it has a slightest of pressure against the ridge. These ridges create the patterns of the fingerprints. These fingerprint patterns are formed in the womb and remain in the body till death. They hardly change unless and until there is some kind of injury, mutation or external change. Our fingerprints have tiny lines of concentric ridges. The general forms these ridges take are loops, accidental, whorls and arches. There are many print records that are organized into these categories for easy reference during fingerprint analysis.

The ridges make distinctive fingerprints that are based on minute variations in their patterns. The small differences are called finer points or minutiae. Common finer points include ridge endings, ridge splits culled bifurcations and crossovers that connect two ridges. Other minutiae include lakes, islands, and dots. Lakes are open places with a single ridge. Islands are small ridges, and dots are minute ridges that are nearly round. The fact that fingerprints remain unchanged almost throughout life is one reason that makes fingerprint analysis successful in identifying individuals from their prints. Every pattern is different and unique and not even one finger has the same print. Although no study has confirmed that all fingerprints are exclusive in all the years of records, no two have ever been found to be totally matching. Everyone’s finger pattern is exclusive, which is why they are used widely by forensics to identify individuals. Fingerprinting analysis has been used for more than a century, and is widely used by law enforcement agencies.