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Sexual Dimorphism in Finger Ridge Breadth Measurements: A Tool for Sex Estimation from Fingerprints

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Previous research has demonstrated significant sexual dimorphism in friction ridge skin characteristics. This study uses a novel method for measuring sexual dimorphism in finger ridge breadths to evaluate its utility as a sex estimation method from an unknown fingerprint. Beginning and ending in a valley, the width of ten parallel ridges with no obstructions or minutia was measured in a sample of 250 males and females (N = 500). The results demonstrate statistically significant differences in ridge breadth between males and females (p < 0.001), with classification accuracy for each digit varying from 83.2% to 89.3%. Classification accuracy for the pooled finger samples was 83.9% for the right hand and 86.2% for the left hand, which is applicable for cases where the digit number cannot be determined. Weight, stature, and to a lesser degree body mass index also significantly correlate with ridge breadth and account for the degree of overlap between males and females.
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Keywords: dermatoglyphics; fingerprints; forensic science; friction ridge breadth; friction ridge impressions; sex estimation; sexual dimorphism

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2014

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