Harrisburg University study aims to determine genetic role in fingerprint creation


HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Every fingerprint can tell a story, from helping police catch criminals, to identifying missing children.

“Even amongst twins, they’re unique,” said Jill Yeakel, a lecturer in forensic science at Harrisburg University, “and then also they’re permanent, so they’re something that stays with you your entire life.”

Yeakel is working on a new research project at Harrisburg University.

“There’s a lot known about fingerprints and how they develop in the womb, that environmental conditions actually play a big role in that, but the type of genetic inheritance that plays a role in that, we don’t understand,” Yeakel said.

Researchers are looking for at least 25 families to participate, anyone over the age of 18 with three generations in their family.

“What we’re looking for in this project is mostly the class characteristics, so if it’s a loop, a whorl or an arch,” Yeakel said, “but we can use these stereoscopes to get much more individual in the characteristics and look at all the individual minutiae.”

Yeakel says they won’t actually take your fingerprint use any sensitive information. They just need to know the type of fingerprints you have.

“We have an instruction guidebook that tells you exactly how to classify what those types are and then we also have staff that can help identify those for you,” Yeakel said. The entire process takes about five minutes per person.

“Knowing that mitochondrial DNA is passed down from your mother, this could also help maybe do some inheritance, try to figure out, if we have a fingerprint, tracing it back through the family line or something like that,” Yeakel said.

If you are interested, packets are available at the Harrisburg University security desk.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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