Updated: Apr 19
I'm starting a new series on forensic facts and I thought I'd share something interesting I read about fingerprints yesterday. It has to do with the beginnings of forensic science. In Rome, 1000 A.D., an attorney named Quintilian used a bloody handprint to exonerate a blind man accused of murdering his own mother.
Flash forward to modern forensic science, where fingerprint analysis has moved way past loops and swirls. Modern biosensor technology uses amino acids found in fingerprints to analyze for everything from age to medications in your system.
They can even focus on six specific amino acid arrays to identify biological gender. The content of your fingerprint is much more informative than you realize. Crime labs can examine the chemical content of a print even if it's damaged or smudged. Investigators can use equipment like mass spectrometers to reveal drug use, alcohol abuse, the presence of medications, and even excessive stress hormones. Wow.
Since law enforcement is no longer limited to comparing the ridges and whorls of a fingerprint, smudged or incomplete prints are no longer useless. Modern crime labs can uncover what kind of lotion you wear, the repeated wear on your fingertips caused by a job or hobby, and even what you regularly ingest. Yeah, really. Your fast-food habit can make it harder to get away with murder.
Dr. John Bond, a researcher at the University of Leicester found the corrosive effects of saltiness in a perpetrator's fingerprint made more profound impressions, especially on metal. They looked at the outer casing of a fired bullet and found that even if wiped off, some evidence remained. So maybe don't pick up those chicken nuggets if you're about to commit a crime.
I'm diving into some interesting facts and busting some common misconceptions about forensics for my new blog series. My newest book is an FBI thriller and I wanted to do as much research as possible to get it right. So, as I come across the weird and unexpected I hope to share it with you. It's fascinating stuff.
I'm also reading Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA, and More Tell Us About Crime by Val McDermid. It's not the dry scientific work I thought it would be. In fact, it's rather fascinating! Look for a review coming soon.
Up next in my forensic series is Sweat: The ultimate narc.
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