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a branch of human morphology that studies the skin relief of the palms and soles, where the skin is covered with patterns of numerous ridges (papillary lines). Ridges and patterns are also found in simians, lemurs, and certain other mammals. The ridges are linear thickenings both within and on the surface of the epidermis. They begin to develop in the human fetus by the third month, but they do not appear on the surface of the skin until the 18th week. The papillary lines and patterns do not change with age, nor are they affected by surrounding conditions. They exhibit considerable individual variability; many of their particular features are transmitted by heredity.
The results of dermatoglyphics are therefore used widely in criminology, forensic medicine (in cases of disputed paternity), and clinical medicine (for early diagnosis of certain chromosomal diseases). Extensive study of skin patterns has revealed right-left, sexual, and territorial differences, which are used in anthropology, for example, to detect kinship between various human groups and to study the bilateral symmetry of the body. Skin patterns are also used in comparative anatomical studies of man and the primates and in anthropological genetics (familial and twin studies).
REFERENCESGladkova, T. D. Kozhnye uzory kisti i stopy obez’ian i cheloveka. Moscow, 1966.
Cummins, H. and C. Midlo. Finger Prints, Palms, and Soles [2nd ed.]. New York, 1961.
T. D. GLADKOVA