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    Why do identical twins have different fingerprints?

    No, identical twins don’t have the same fingerprints. Here’s the strange science of how fingerprints form – and why they’re not completely sculpted by DNA.

    Why do identical twins have different fingerprints?

    By Dr Claire Asher

    Published: 18th September, 2021 at 11:00

    Subscribe to BBC Science Focus Magazine and get 6 issues for just £9.99

    The strange science of how fingerprints form – and why they’re not completely sculpted by DNA.

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    In the late 1800s, doctors and scientists began gathering evidence that the pattern of ridges on a person’s fingers is not only unique to them, but also stays the same throughout their life, making fingerprints useful for identification. It wasn’t long before fingerprints were being used to catch criminals and they remain an important forensic tool today.


    The likelihood of two people sharing identical fingerprints by chance is estimated to be less than one in 64 billion. Based on those odds, researchers have calculated that it would take more than a million years for two people with identical fingerprints to appear by chance in Scotland Yard’s fingerprint database.

    Even identical twins – who have the same DNA sequence and tend to share a very similar appearance – have slightly different fingerprints. That’s because fingerprints are influenced by both genetic and environmental factors during development in the womb.

    Fingerprints are set between 13 and 19 weeks of foetal development. The precise details of the whorls, ridges, and loops are affected by many factors, including umbilical cord length, position in the womb, blood pressure, nutrition and the rate of finger growth. Those small differences can become more pronounced after birth as a result of differences in weight and height, for example.

    So, although their shared DNA means identical twins’ fingerprints do tend to be more similar than those of strangers, forensic experts and state-of-the-art recognition software can still spot the difference, making it harder than you might think for twins to become criminal masterminds.

    But fingerprints are not unique to humans. Chimpanzees and gorillas also have fine ridges on their fingertips that seem to be unique to individuals, which we probably inherited from a shared ancestor. Plus, a more distant relative, the koala, has independently evolved fingerprints that are surprisingly similar to ours.

    Read more:

    Could two people who aren’t twins have the same DNA?

    What’s the biological difference between identical twins and clones?

    Do identical twins think alike?

    Can facial recognition software differentiate between identical twins?

    Asked by: Eleanor Warnes, Bolton


    To submit your questions email us at [email protected] (don't forget to include your name and location)


    Dr Claire Asher

    Dr Claire Asher is a science journalist and has a PhD in Genetics, Ecology, and Evolution (GEE) at the University of Leeds. She also works part time as Manager of the UK Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) Network, based at Imperial College London. Asher is also the author of Brave Green World: How Science Can Save Our Planet.

    Source : www.sciencefocus.com

    Do Identical Twins Have the Same Fingerprints?

    Identical twins are the same in so many ways, but does that include having the same fingerprints? There's conflicting information out there so we look at what's known.

    Why Twins Don’t Have Identical Fingerprints

    Medically reviewed by Karen Gill, M.D. — Written by Kristeen Cherney on January 4, 2019

    Close but not the same

    It’s a misconception that twins have identical fingerprints. While identical twins share many physical characteristics, each person still has their own unique fingerprint.

    If you’re curious about how identical twins are similar and how shared fingerprints aren’t possible, read on to learn more.

    Twin types

    There are two types of twins: fraternal and identical. The differences ultimately lie in their genetic makeup, or DNA.

    Fraternal twins

    Fraternal twins develop from two separate eggs and two different sperm.

    According to the Minnesota Center for Twin and Family Research, fraternal twins share 50 percent of the DNA as a result.

    Since they share no more DNA than siblings that aren’t twins, it’s possible to have one boy and one girl in a fraternal set of twins. This isn’t possible in an identical set of twins.

    Identical twins

    Identical twins, on the other hand, form within the same egg that splits into two, which results in the two individuals having the exact same DNA.

    They share many physical similarities as a result of shared DNA, including hair color, eye color, and skin tone. In fact, it’s said that one in four identical twins mirror each other.

    Environmental factors can still create slight differences in identical twins’ physical appearances, though, which is how other people can essentially tell them apart. Some underlying differences can include weight and height.

    Fingerprints aren’t included in these genetic similarities. That’s because the formation of fingerprints is dependent on both genetic and environmental factors in the womb.

    What are the chances of identical fingerprints in twins?

    The chances of identical fingerprints in identical twins is slim-to-none. While anecdotal articles online often discuss the possibility of a chance that the science could be wrong, no research has found that identical twins can have the same fingerprints.

    According to the Washington State Twin Registry, identical twins may share similar characteristics of their fingerprints, including the loops and ridges. But having such similarities to the naked eye doesn’t mean the fingerprint composition is exactly the same.

    In fact, the National Forensic Science Technology Center states that, “no two people have ever been found to have the same fingerprints — including identical twins.”

    Also, it’s important to keep in mind that fingerprints also vary between your own fingers — this means you have a unique print on each finger.

    Some studies, however, have touched on the misconception that identical twins have the same fingerprints.

    One such study Trusted Source Trusted Source

    investigated fingerprints in identical twins by looking at samples of their prints from different angles. It was found that the fingerprints can look remarkably similar at first. But, you can analyze multiple sets at different angles to determine the differences.

    How fingerprints form

    A person’s fingerprints are formed in the womb based on a combination of genes and environmental factors. According to the Washington State Twin Registry, fingerprint patterns are set between 13 and 19 weeks of fetal development.

    Fingerprints are partially determined by DNA. This explains why a pair of identical twins might appear to have similar fingerprints at first.

    Environmental factors from inside the womb also contribute to fetal fingerprint development, ensuring that identical twins’ fingerprints aren’t the same. These factors may include:

    access to nutrition inside the womb

    umbilical cord length

    overall blood flow blood pressure

    position inside the womb

    the overall rate of finger growth

    As a result, identical twins may have similarities in the ridges, whorls, and loops in their fingerprints. But upon closer examination, you’ll notice differences in some of the smaller details, including spaces between ridges and divisions between branch markings.

    The bottom line

    Identical twins share a lot of similarities in both their genetic makeup and their physical appearances. But, like those who aren’t twins, identical twins all have unique fingerprints.

    Due to environmental factors that affect their development inside the womb, it’s impossible for identical twins to have the exact same fingerprints. Anecdotal observations suggest some similarities exist but there’s no research to support this.

    Last medically reviewed on January 4, 2019

    ParenthoodBaby 6 sources collapsed

    Healthline has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

    Flais SV. (2015). The difference between identical and fraternal twins.


    MTFS twin info and frequently asked questions. (2007).


    Principles of fingerprint analysis. (n.d.).

    Source : www.healthline.com

    Do identical twins have identical fingerprints?

    Despite sharing almost 100% of their DNA, identical twins have different fingerprints, thanks to unique environmental factors.

    Do identical twins have identical fingerprints?

    By Harry Baker published August 07, 2021

    Not quite.

    Despite looking exactly alike, identical twins do not have identical fingerprints. (Image credit: Shutterstock)

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    Your fingerprints are different from those of everyone else on Earth. The whorls and ridges on your fingertips are determined partly by your genetic makeup. But if you had an identical twin with the same genetic makeup as you, would your fingerprints still be unique?

    Identical twins, also known as monozygotic twins, come from a single embryo that divides in two early on in development. The result is two individuals that share almost the same genetic information from each parent and look almost exactly the same. Identical twins are essentially clones of one another, although genetic mutations in the womb mean they don't quite share 100% of the same DNA, Live Science previously reported.

    However, despite having almost-identical DNA, monozygotic twins don't have identical fingerprints.

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    Related: Why do we have fingerprints?

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    "Whilst identical twins share more similarities than two random individuals, their fingerprints are different enough that they can be used to uniquely identify them," Simona Francese, a forensic scientist and expert on fingerprints at Sheffield Hallam University in the U.K. , told Live Science.

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    No one on Earth has the same fingerprints.

    "The probability of two individuals sharing the same fingerprints is 1 in 64 billion," Francese said. "To this day, no two fingerprints have been found to be identical."

    Fingerprints are also different on each finger. "Every digit has a different ridge pattern, which produces a different fingerprint," Francese said.

    But if identical twins share almost exactly the same DNA, why aren't their fingerprints indistinguishable from one another?

    It turns out that DNA isn't the only factor that influences a person's fingerprints, even though it does play a major role in determining the ridge pattern characteristics, Francese said. "Different environmental factors in the womb also play a role in the development of fingerprints."

    Fingerprints are formed between 13 and 19 weeks of fetal development. The fetal position in the womb, access to nutrients and even the length of the umbilical cord can all affect fingerprints, Francese said.


    —What if our hands had 6 fingers?

    —Are you genetically more similar to your mom or your dad?

    —Why do humans have palm lines?

    After twins are born, other factors can also change fingerprints. "Skin conditions, scars, burns and, in certain rare cases, medications can permanently or temporarily alter the ridge details," Francese said.

    So, while identical twins might be able to fool their friends and family about who's who, there is always one surefire way to tell them apart.

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    Originally published on Live Science.

    More Twin Births Globally Than Ever Before

    Since the 1980s, the rate of twin births worldwide has increased by more than 30%.

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    PLAY SOUND Harry Baker Staff Writer

    Harry is a U.K.-based staff writer at Live Science. He studied Marine Biology at the University of Exeter (Penryn campus) and after graduating started his own blog site "Marine Madness," which he continues to run with other ocean enthusiasts. He is also interested in evolution, climate change, robots, space exploration, environmental conservation and anything that's been fossilized. When not at work he can be found watching sci-fi films, playing old Pokemon games or running (probably slower than he'd like).


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