1st september: World Fingerprinting
September 1st is World Fingerprinting Day. A celebration that seeks to honor the man who saw the unique importance of the biological signs or traces of human beings to gather evidence in crimes.
That man was Juan Vucetich, an astro-Hungarian who ended up living in Argentina and there discovered the true power of fingerprints to solve hitherto unsolvable crimes.
Who was Juan Vucetich?
He was born in 1858 in Lesina, a region then belonging to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In 1882, he arrived in Buenos Aires and from that year on he lived in Argentina, where he also developed all his discoveries. He was the one who developed the first classification of fingerprints and produced the first dactyloscopic cards in the world. His source of inspiration was the lecture given by Francis Galton the previous year at the famous Royal Society of London, which spoke about the impression left by the thumb and the other fingers.
What is dactyloscopy?
In short, dactyloscopy is the study of fingerprint traits. No two fingerprints are alike, although those of univitelline twins are very difficult to differentiate. Every fingerprint in the world has a series of features and shapes that create a unique pattern. That is why in series such as CSI or any police movie, so much emphasis is placed on fingerprint collection.
Collecting a fingerprint is not a difficult task, you just need the surface where the print was left, some sticky powder, it can be anything from talcum powder to the dust from crime cases, a thick brush and a surface with glue, such as a piece of clear tape to retain the print. However, identifying the features of the print is another story, here you will need a lot of knowledge of some method of dactyloscopic classification, time and a good magnifying glass.
The work of Juan Vucetich
Vucetich created four main groups to classify the features of a fingerprint: arches, internal loops, external loops and whorls. Thanks to his method and the creation of fingerprint cards, the Buenos Aires police were able to identify in 1892 the murderer Francisca Rojas, a woman from the city of Necochea. Rojas had killed her three children and framed her husband, but at the crime scene a bloody thumbprint was found, evidence that gave her away and showed the world the usefulness and veracity of dactyloscopy as an effective method for forensic activities.