Why do Identical Twins Have Different Fingerprints?

Identical twins share the same DNA so how is it that they can have different fingerprints? This article explores the reasons why.

Why are Fingerprints Important?

We use our fingerprints to securely unlock our devices

We use finger prints lots in our lives as it is deemed the most legitimate proof of identifying our identify in courts of law internationally.

We often use our fingerprints when verifying our identification using biometric scanners on our phones and it can even be used as a method to identify us if we end up imprisoned.

Do Identical Twins have the Same Fingerprints?

It’s a question commonly asked – Do identical twins have the same finger prints because because they share the same physical appearance?

According to Anil K Jain and others identical twins surprisingly do not have the same finger prints and can be distinguished also by their retina, thermogram and iris pattern with lower accuracy than non twins.

What are our Fingerprints Made up of?

Our fingerprints are made up of three different characteristics which help make them unique, these include: arches, loops and whorls.

Fingerprints are semi-defined while the fetus develops in the womb and changes based on events such as hormone levels changing or random fluctuations. The fingerprint becomes fully formed around the 7 month mark of being in the womb.

Once our fingerprints have been developed in the womb, they stay with us for life! The only exception is if we have a fall or accident where we may bruise or cut our fingerprint which can have obvious effects to the fingerprint characteristics.

How Similar are the Fingerprints of People?

Before we look at how similar fingerprints of identical twins are, it’s important to look at how similar our fingerprints are with other people.

If we start with the fingerprints of two unrelated people, these people will share very little similarity in their fingerprints.

Now moving slightly closer in similarity, if we look at the fingerprints of a parent and child, they will have some genetic similarity (as they share half the genes between one another).

If we look at two singleton children within a family, they will have more genetic similarity.

It is only when we get to monozygotic identical twins where we see the closest genetical relationship.

What Causes Identical Twin Fingerprints to be Different?

During pregnancy we begin to see the fingerprint change

Monozygotic twins are created based on a single fertilised egg into two embryos. From here they then share the same identical DNA but as the fetus begins to develop this is where we begin to see micromutations occurring.

The fingerprints of the two twins begin as identical however as the micromutations begin to occur, this is where we see very small changes to the fingerprints occurring due to hormone levels changing or random fluctuations.

Not only do fingerprints change due to micromutations but so do skin freckles or moles which can also vary between identical twins.

The difference between the fingerprints of identical twins can be very minor to the point where only a trained expert is able to differentiate the difference.




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