Types Of Fingerprints You Should Know

Last Updated on September 16, 2023 by Chase Reiner

Common fingerprint patterns include loops (60-70% of prints), whorls (25-35%), and arches (5-10%). Loops have ridges entering and exiting from one side, whorls form circular or spiral patterns, and arches have ridges flowing from one side to the other.

Some Types Of Fingerprints You Should Know

Types Of Fingerprints with Details

1. Loop Fingerprints

Loop fingerprints are perhaps the most common type of fingerprint, representing around 60-65% of all fingerprints that occur. This pattern consists of one or more ridges entering from either side, curving around, and exiting from the same side. There are two categories within this pattern, namely the ulnar loop and the radial loop.

  • Ulnar Loop: Named after the ulnar bone in the arm, this pattern of fingerprint starts on the pinky side of the hand and curves towards the thumb.
  • Radial Loop: This pattern is the opposite of ulnar loop, where it starts from the thumb side and curves towards the pinky.

2. Whorl Fingerprints

Whorl fingerprints make up roughly 30-35% of all fingerprint patterns. These consist of circular and spiral patterns and have at least two deltas. The whorl category is further divided into four sub-categories:

  • Plain Whorl: This is a simple circular pattern with two deltas.
  • Central Pocket Loop Whorl: This pattern has loops and two deltas, however, the loops do not go around in a complete circle.
  • Double Loop Whorl: This pattern consists of two loops that create a pattern resembling an ‘S’.
  • Accidental Whorl: This is a pattern that does not fit into any of the above categories. It may contain two or more patterns.

3. Arch Fingerprints

The rarest of all, arch fingerprints make up only about 5% of all types. They are characterized by ridges that enter from one side of the print, rise in the centre forming an arc, and then exit on the other side of the print. There are two types under this category:

  • Plain Arch: This is a simple arch pattern where the ridges enter from one side and exit from the other side.
  • Tented Arch: This type is similar to the plain arch but has a spike in the middle which makes it look like a tent.
Fingerprint TypesDetail
Loop FingerprintsMost common type, represents around 60-65% of all fingerprints. Includes Ulnar Loops and Radial Loops.
Whorl FingerprintsMakes up 30-35% of all fingerprints, contains circular and spiral patterns. Sub-divided into Plain Whorl, Central Pocket Loop Whorl, Double Loop Whorl, and Accidental Whorl.
Arch FingerprintsRepresents only 5% of all fingerprints. Contains Plain Arch and Tented Arch patterns.

Each type of fingerprint is unique and can offer a wealth of information about an individual in a forensic context.

What Are Whorls?

Whorls (also called circular arches) are different from other types of fingerprints in that they have a connecting dot, not two dots above each other. They’re also the only fingerprint type with curved lines on both sides rather than one side and straight lines on the opposite side.

A whorl is simply defined as any patterned design that resembles an ever-tightening spiral about its center point or axes like a snail’s shell or corkscrew; this includes such patterns as circles, spirals, loops (including double and triple), zig zags/zig zaggers, figure eights, etc., but may also include tented arches when there’s no space left for more connections to be made at the center.

This type of fingerprint is very interesting because the pattern can be duplicated on both hands while no other types have this quality, nor does a whorl typically go beyond two fingers or past an arch shape due to its circular nature. It’s also only found in about 20% of all people with fingerprints, so you can usually identify someone by this unique characteristic alone!

The originator of the term “whorls” was Francis Galton based on his observations from 1892-1893 and first published as an introductory chapter in Henry Faulds’ book titled ‘Injuries Produced By Fingernails And Other Objects’: “…these are shown diagrammatically by a figure having concentric arches like the pattern made by a whirlpool, and the name ‘whorl’ is applied to them.”

The interesting thing about this type of fingerprint is that it’s different from all other types because it has an arch shape. It’s also very rare in people with fingerprints; only about 20% have such prints on their fingers. You can usually identify someone based on this characteristic alone! This print was first discovered by Francis Galton who noticed they’re different from any others. He gave these a new name called “Whorls” and published his findings in Henry Faulds’ book titled ‘Injuries Produced By Fingernails And Other Objects’.

How Do Tented Arches Differ From A Print With Dots Above Each Other In Whorls?

The main difference between these types of fingerprints is their form. Tented arches are usually in a straight line while whorls have an arch shape and dots above each other. Another feature to look for would be the swirls: tented arches don’t have any, but they’re present on all whorls.

Tent-arched prints differ from whorl patterns by having more than one row of ridges that start at different points along with the finger or thumb (rather than being just rows of ridge endings), with every next row offset farther down the digit; such prints give a ‘tented’ appearance overall to the print because of this regular pattern.

What Is An Ulnar Loop Or Ellis’ Type Fingerprint?

An ulnar loop or Ellis’ type fingerprint is a pattern in which there are loops on the underside of the thumb and one finger. The loops, being circles, will have an arch shape with ridges that go inside them rather than outside.

Personality-wise, Ellis’s types tend to be more introverted while their counterparts are extroverted. This may be due to the fact they feel safer staying away from others because they don’t want to share what’s going on inside themselves (which might not always turn out well).

A person who has this kind of print can also see things differently–literally! One study found people with these prints were able to read symbols better if those symbols were upside down compared to the other prints.

What Are Radial Loops Or Henry’s Type Prints?

This type of print has a ridge or arch shape that goes outside the loops. This is different from most other types because these prints are circular, not oval like all others on this list. The first person to identify Henry’s type was Dr. George Burgess who found them while working on a murder case in Texas back in 1985. He noticed there were no scars and an unusual pattern for skin cells under the fingernails–hence his name for it! People with radial loop prints have personality traits that tend towards being more extroverted than introverted (which may be why they feel safer putting themselves out there).

How Biometric Technology and Fingerprint Identification Works

Biometric technology revolutionizes the wide panorama of security authentication systems. Human-specific characteristics, such as fingerprints, facial patterns, and iris recognition, are engaged in granting access to systems and services. The following listicle explores the mechanism of biometric technology, particularly focusing on fingerprint identification.

  1. Basic Principle:
    Biometric fingerprint technology functions on the concept of distinguishing and authenticating individuals based on their unique biological traits. Every individual has unique fingerprints, making this method of identification a widely accepted norm in biometric technology.
  2. Capturing the Data:
    The first step in biometric fingerprint identification involves capturing a person’s fingerprint image. This capture can occur via numerous types of scanners, including optical, ultrasonic, or capacitive sensors. Each offers different levels of accuracy and security, with some being more robust against counterfeiting or providing sharper images.
  3. Fingerprint Features Extraction (Minutiae):
    After the capture, the system computes the distinct features on the fingerprint, also known as minutiae. Ridge endings and bifurcations are the key identifiers on a fingerprint and form the basis for fingerprint recognition.
  4. Quality Assessment:
    Immediately after feature extraction, the system proceeds with a quality check. This ensures the collected data is viable and precise. In the event wherein the quality is not up to standard, the system requests a recapture.
  5. Template Creation:
    Up next, the system creates a fingerprint template. Unique characteristics extracted from the ridges and furrows during the analysis are converted into mathematical algorithms to establish a unique ‘digital identity’. The formation of the fingerprint template signifies the successful completion of enrollment in biometric systems.
  6. Fingerprint Matching:
    For authentication purposes, a new fingerprint image or live scan is compared with previously stored templates. Match-on-device and match-on-card are two common methods of matching where either the matching takes place on a device (phone or access control reader) or on a smart card.
  7. Decision Process:
    Whether access is granted or denied is determined by the decision process. If the newly acquired data matches the previously stored template, access is granted. The system will deny access if there is no match.
Biometric FunctionDescription
Data CaptureObtains fingerprint image
Feature ExtractionComputes unique fingerprint traits
Quality AssessmentAnalyzes the quality of the captured image
Template CreationConstructs a ‘digital identity’
MatchingCompares the new scan with stored templates
DecisionGrants or denies access based on the result

Biometric technology, especially fingerprint identification, ensures rigorous security in a wide array of areas, from mobile phones to high-security buildings. Understanding how it operates helps appreciate its potential and further contribute to its development.



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