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Bertillon system(bərtĭl`yən), first scientific method of criminal identification, developed by the French criminologist Alphonse Bertillon (1853–1914). The system, based on the classification of skeletal and other body measurements and characteristics, was officially adopted in France in 1888 and soon after in other countries. Fingerprinting, added later as a supplementary measure, has largely replaced the system (see fingerprintfingerprint,
an impression of the underside of the end of a finger or thumb, used for identification because the arrangement of ridges in any fingerprint is thought to be unique and permanent with each person (no two persons having the same prints have ever been found).
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See biography of Alphonse Bertillon by H. Rhodes (1956, repr. 1969).