Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Study and classification of the highly heritable patterns of the ridges and whorls on the skin surfaces of palms, fingers, soles, and toes. The use of fingerprints for identification came as early as 1823 by Purkenje. W. J. Herschel used them to seal documents in 1877. The scientific and forensic value of fingerprints was first realized by F. Galton.

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