Are Fingerprints Inherited?

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Author: Jennifer Penn-Chiu


Fingerprints are unique to everyone. There are three basic shapes: Loop, Whorl, and Arch. Everyone falls into one of those three categories, but still, there are subtle differences such as positioning, amount of lines, and angle that make everyone's fingerprints unique to them. In this experiment, we will see if the basic shape is heritable among family members.


  • At least 10 families who are willing to participate in your study
  • Fingerprint consent form
  • Black ink pad
  • White printer paper
  • Moist towelettes
  • Magnifying glass
  • Pen/paper for notes


  1. Have your test subjects sign a consent form.
  2. Wiping their right index finger with a towelette to remove the oils.
  3. Roll the right index finger side to side on the inkpad.
  4. Press the finger from side to side on a piece of white paper.
  5. Clean the test subject's finger with another towelette.
  6. Label whose fingerprint this belongs to so you will know.
  7. Repeat steps 1-6 for the rest of the family members.
  8. Compare the fingerprints to see have they share on of the three basic shapes: Loop, Whorl, and Arch.
  9. Repeat steps 1-8 for all your test subjects.
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