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A Novel Approach for Fingerprinting Mummified Hands

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Fingerprinting has long been used as a method for identifying bodies and, since first discovered, many advances have been made in both fingerprint acquisition and interpretation. However, in the field of forensic pathology, the attainment of fingerprints from mummified bodies has remained difficult. The most common technique historically used to obtain fingerprints in these cases usually employs the amputation of the fingers combined with soaking and/or injecting the fingers with various solutions in order to enhance the fingerprints. A novel approach to fingerprinting mummified fingers is presented which involves removal and rehydration of the fingerpads (including the epidermal, dermal, and adipose tissues) followed by inking and rolling, using a gloved finger for support. The technique presented produces a superior quality of print without amputation of the finger, yielding excellent results and assisting in obtaining positive identification.
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Keywords: dermatoglyphs; fingerprint; forensic science; human identification; mummification; tissue rehydration

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office, 7337 Louis Pasteur Drive, San Antonio, TX 78229.

Publication date: July 1, 2008

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