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Most Common Types Of Footprints & Properties

Fingerprints are the impression produced by the contact of the papillary ridges of a finger on a surface . According to their characteristics, forensic science and typing classify them into different types.

What are they?

They are also known as Dermatoglyphics and are the visible or molded impression produced by the contact of the papillary ridges of our fingers on a surface. It belongs to one of the first-person identification techniques of the Frenchman Alphonse Bertillon, a system that would later be improved by Juan Vucetich. However, since the time of the Persian Empire, they were used as a method to seal documents.

These tracks are created because the papillary ridges secrete sweat, this is because the pores of the sweat glands are located on the top of the ridges. Once the sweat comes out, it spills onto the ridges and mixes with the oil of the skin so that when you touch or manipulate an object capable of retaining prints, the ridges leave an impression on it.

Properties of Footprints:

Footprints have several notable properties:

Perennial: They are formed in the sixth month of intrauterine life and do not vary in number, shape, direction or location until the natural decomposition of the corpse destroys the skin.

Immutable: They cannot be modified physiologically. If a shallow wound appears, they regenerate. If the wound is very deep, the affected area is invaded by a scar pattern.

Diversiform: No two identical impressions produced on different fingers have been found.

Originals: This is because direct contact with the fingertips produces original impressions with identifiable microscopic features. You can always tell if they were captured directly by the person or if it was an artificial lophogram.

Types of Footprints:

They can be classified as:

natural fingerprint

It is the one found in the tip of the finger and is formed by the papillary ridges.

artificial fingerprint

It is one that appears as a result of inking a natural fingerprint and printing it in a suitable area.

latent fingerprint

It is the imprint left by any natural fingerprint when touching an object or surface. It is marked, but it is invisible. To be revealed, a suitable reagent must be used.

They are classified by their characteristics into:

Visible or Positive

They are those that leave the fingers when they are impregnated with some dye such as ink, dust, blood or any substance that can mark the papillary ridges and facilitate their observation with the naked eye.


They are those that appear printed in the form of a mold and are marked on plastic materials such as soap, grease and plasticine.


They are those that appear naturally on the pads of both hands from six months of gestation, are preserved until death and disappear with the putrefaction process.


They are those that are captured in some substance, especially ink for observation and study.

According to its forensic classification we have:


They are those that only have two regions or zones. They have a mountain shape so in the forensic system they will only have secondary importance in classifying a person.


They are those that have two zones or regions and in the central part they have a vertical ridge that makes the ridges form a peak similar to a tent. They are only of secondary importance for the classification of people.

Radial and ulnar clip

It has all the regions and in turn, it has a figure called delta, which is the conformation of the three regions, one that comes out in the direction of the radial bone and another of the ulnar bone.

simple whorl

It has three regions and in turn has two deltas in its core region. It has a circular elliptical shape or oval shape.

Pocket central whorl

It has three zones and regions and has a delta closer to the core than the second delta.

Double loop

It has an S-shaped core with two deltas.


It has two different shapes due to the presence of a scar, or it has more than two drawings and will present three deltas.

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