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Finger nail plate shape and size for personal identification – a possible low technology method for the developing world - Preliminary report

Adekunle O George


There is much documented information on abnormal fingernail shapes- acquired or congenital. There is a dearth of information on the shapes of the clinically healthy fingernail in medical textbooks and scientific journals. A study was carried out to determine the possible shapes of the healthy fingernails and the prevalence of each shape in the locality, i.e. in Ibadan, south-western Nigeria and to consider if there would be enough diversity in the shapes and sizes and their distribution on the different fingers to merit consideration for personal identification. The population included 496 consenting individuals, four family units and four sets of monozygotic twins. The latter two population samples were studied to assess the combinations possible within families and in monozygotic twins. Seven gross fingernail shapes were identified in the study population. Examination showed variations within members of the families i.e. no two members had identical shapes in the pair of hands. Examination of 4 sets of identical twins showed no difference in the shapes and sizes of the fingernails on each finger. It would appear that the finger nail plate shapes /sizes of the hands show diversities similar to finger prints and therefore can be considered and developed further for personal identification in developing countries such as Africa.

African Journal of Health Sciences Vol. 12(1-2) 2005: 13-20

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eISSN: 1022-9272