Determining the Sex of a Fingerprint

By Shannon Bohman ’19

Fingerprints can be revealed by residual amino acids.

An new innovative test may help determine whether a fingerprint comes from a man or a woman. Certain amino acids are twice as prevalent in women than in men, meaning that testing for amino acid concentration found in fingerprints can determine the gender of the person they belong to.

For more than a century, fingerprints have been analyzed as if they were photographs. Improvements in fingerprint technology simply involved new technology that could cross-compare images of prints faster and more precisely. This new chemical test provided insight that photographic technology could not offer. From doorknobs to computer screens, the test proved successful in determining the sex of a person based on their fingerprint. However, a larger sample size of fingerprints is necessary in order to ensure statistical significance.

Testing for amino acids could become a hallmark of preliminary crime scene investigation. Scientist Jan Halamek, from the State University of New York at Albany, and his colleagues hope to soon create tests that can determine the age and ethnicity of fingerprints as well.


  1. Image acquired from:
  2. Huynh, et al., Forensic identification of gender from fingerprints. Analytical Chemistry (2015).
  3. Bhanoo, New technique can classify a fingerprint as male or female. The New York Times (2015).

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