"The Patterns in Thumb and Finger Marks," by Francis Galton (abstract for Fellows at the meeting of the Royal Society)
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University College London, GP, 172/1
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&quote;The Patterns in Thumb and Finger Marks,&quote; by Francis Galton (abstract for Fellows at the meeting of the Royal Society)

[half obscured stamp]University London Papers[end stamp] Uncorrected Proof, exclusively for the Use of the Fellows at the Meeting of the Society. "The Patterns in Thumb and Finger Marks: on their Arrangement into naturally distinct Classes, the Permanence of the Papillary Ridges that make them, and the Resemblance of their Classes to ordinary Genera." By Francis Galton, F.R.S. Received November 3, 1890. (Abstract.) The memoir describes the results of a recent inquiry into the patterns formed by the papillary ridges upon the bulbs of the thumbs and fingers of different persons. The points especially dwelt upon in it are the natural classification of the patterns, their permanence throughout life, and the apt confirmation they afford of the opinion that the genera of plants and animals may be isolated from one another otherwise than through the influence of natural selection. The origin of the patterns was shown to be due to the existence of the nail, which interfered with the horizontal course of the papillary ridges, and caused those near the tip to run in arches, leaving an interspace between them and the horizontal ridges below. This interspace was filled with various scrolls which formed the patterns. The points or point at which the ridges diverged to enclose the interspace were cardinal points in the classification. It was shown that there were in all only nine possible ways in which the main features of the inclosure of the interspace could be effected. In addition to the 9 classes there was a primary form, occurring in about 3 per cent. of all the cases, in which the interspace was not clearly marked, and from this primary form all the other patterns wee evolved. The forms of the patterns were easily traced in individual cases by following the two pair of divergent ridges or the one pair if there was only one pair, to their terminations, pursuing the innermost branch whenever the ridge bifurcated, and continuing in an adjacent ridge whenever the one that was being followed happened to come to an end. 25 of the principal patterns were submitted, and a few varieties of some of them, making a total of 40. They are by no means equally frequent. The data as to the permanence of the patterns and of the ridges that compose them were supplied to the author by Sir W. J. Herschel, who, when in the Indian Civil Service, introduced in his district the practice of impressing finger marks as a check against personation. Impression made by 5 persons about 30 years ago, and by a boy 9 years ago, are compared with their present impressions, and it is shown that out of a total of 296 definite points of comparison, namely the places where the ridges ceased, either abruptly or by junction with another ridge, not one failed to exist in both impressions of the same set. Lastly, the various patterns were shown to be central typical forms from which individual varieties departed to various degrees with a diminishing frequency in each more distant degree, whose rate was in fair accordance with the theoretical law of frequency of error. Consequently, wide departures were extremely rare, and the several patterns corresponded to the centres of isolated groups, whose isolation was not absolutely complete, nor was it due to any rounding off by defined boundaries, but to the great rarity of transitional cases. This condition was brought about by internal causes only, without the least help from natural selection, whether sexual or other. The distribution of individual varieties of the same patterns about their respective typical centres was precisely analogous in its form, say, to that of the Shrimps about theirs, as described in a recent memoir by Mr. Weldon ('Roy. Soc. Proc.,' No. 291, p. 445). It was argued from this, that natural selection has no monopoly of influence either in creating genera or in maintaining their purity. [end]

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