How it all started:

The Chinese first realised the significance of the fingerprint thousands of years ago and used it on documents as a form of signature.  Sir Francis Galton was the first to compile a comprehensive collection of fingerprints and it was due to his work that the government began to study the feasibility of using them to identify criminals.  The ‘Henry System’ was developed as a result of this study (named after Sir Edward Richard Henry), and is still used to classify the different fingerprint patterns.  Since then, various scientists throughout the world have developed the necessary techniques required to use the fingerprint as an effective identification tool. 

Initially, there was concern about the uniqueness of the fingerprint and whether it would be possible for two people to share the same fingerprint.  As time went on, however, it could be shown experimentally that each fingerprint is completely unique and that it would take several generations of the population of the whole world to find a repeat fingerprint.  Not even identical twins share the same fingerprint.

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