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Post By
The Black Guardian

In Reply To
mtyoung

Subj: Re: Meteor has a dumb question.
Posted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 at 03:40:29 am EST
Reply Subj: Re: Meteor has a dumb question.
Posted: Wed Jan 09, 2008 at 10:42:21 pm EST

Previous Post

> Ok this is a dumb question. In science fiction when a person gets cloned his/her clone's fingerprints almost always match the originals fingerprints. Would that really be the case?

Fingerprints are determined by DNA and the environment. So in theory, clones would have the same DNA, but not the same environment.

> Identical twins don't have matching fingerprints right?

Identical twins don't have matching fingerprints.

>So a clone and the original shouldn't have matching fingerprints right?

Correct.

So you need to come up with a reliable alibi, and not just blame your twin. \:\)


> > Ok this is a dumb question. In science fiction when a person gets
> > cloned his/her clone's fingerprints almost always match the
> > originals fingerprints. Would that really be the case?
>
> Fingerprints are determined by DNA and the environment. So in theory,
> clones would have the same DNA, but not the same environment.
>
> > Identical twins don't have matching fingerprints right?
>
> Identical twins don't have matching fingerprints.
>
> > So a clone and the original shouldn't have matching fingerprints
> > right?
>
> Correct.
>
> So you need to come up with a reliable alibi, and not just blame your
> twin. \:\)

Indeed. Identical twins will have very similar fingerprints (more similar than siblings), but upon any close inspection the differences will be apparent. Before the time of genetic testing, fingerprints were used to determine whether a set of twins were identical or fraternal, because identical twins' fingerprints were so similar it set them apart, but they're not carbon copies of each other.

The general patterns of fingerprints are what is determined by DNA. Identical twins will have a lot of similarity in patterns and shapes, siblings will have less similarity, parents even less, other relatives less, and unrelated people very little.

The chemical makeup and physical properties (like the very small currents within the amniotic fluid or the fetus' movements) inside the womb are believed to affect the exact arrangement of the fingerprint ridges as they begin to form (around 6-12 weeks of gestation), just as they do for the precise arrangement of blood vessels.

That said, it's a question as to when the fingerprint analysis is being done and the experience of the analyst. We have improved our techniques since we started using fingerprints as identification tools. 100 years ago, I wouldn't doubt that there would be a large margin of error that could be a problem for identical twins. Even today our fingerprint identification isn't perfect (FBI says it's about 95-98%). Analysts do use a certain degree of subjectivity when analysing fingerprints.

Recent studies seem to indicate that identical twins' fingerprints are, on average, about 95% identical.
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