12
$\begingroup$

Do clones have fingerprints? Are they the same as their original?

Fingerprints are based on your genes but are influenced by your birthing environment. Identical twins don't even have exactly the same fingerprints! So would clones?

If you have a dna sample of someone, you can't work backwards and get their fingerprints!

My previous question about how to grow clones has lead me to question how to tell them apart from each other and the original. Fingerprints seem like an easy low tech solution.

I would imagine that it might depend on the method of cloning.

  • Clones that were 3D printed might have the same fingerprints.

  • Clones grown in some steamy tubey coffin shaped device would probably not have fingerprints much different to their genetic disposition.

  • And clones grown in a watery gooey uterine bath could possibly have fingerprints but would they be the same?

$\endgroup$
  • 11
    $\begingroup$ if you are 3d printing people, you've changed the rules in such an extreme manner that you can do anything you like with the fingerprints. $\endgroup$ – Karen Jul 5 '16 at 16:23
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I agree with @Karen - it depends on how you're doing the cloning. If you're doing something like 3d printing, it's possible to have identical fingerprints. If you're doing something like growing a clone from a fetus, it would have to be in some kind of womb, even artificial, and its fingerprints will be affected by what it touches. $\endgroup$ – Jake Jul 5 '16 at 17:10
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I challenge the premise: There is no proof that fingerprints are completely unique, regardless of clones or not-clones. $\endgroup$ – Wildcard Jul 5 '16 at 23:38
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Wildcard Is it even possible to check every snowflake? $\endgroup$ – user867 Jul 6 '16 at 0:52
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @n00dles, you are welcome to upvote the question if you find it so awesome :) This is what I love about worldbuilding SE. You can learn something new every day! $\endgroup$ – EveryBitHelps Sep 23 '16 at 17:30
13
$\begingroup$

Yes, clones have fingerprints. No, they wouldn't be exactly like their original: fingerprints are influenced by in-utero and epigenetic factors, not just by the DNA. A clone's fingerprints would be very much alike its progenitor (and some features would be nearly identical), but not the same.

Copies, i.e. identical living beings created by some kind of duplicating machine, (faulty) transporters, and time loops, would have of course the same fingerprints - unless the machine for some reason is designed to do otherwise. Even though the two beings would not be identical since they're exposed to different stimuli and environments (so that they would immediately start diverging mentally and biochemically), and in the end it would be possible to tell them apart, still having only one of them at hand one could not say whether it's the original or the "copy" (indeed, even the concept of "copy" gets a bit murky).

If the two beings started with the same set of fingerprints, barring accidents, wounds and similar more or less intentional alterations, they would go on having the same fingerprints; that alone could not be used to tell them apart. Accurate chemical analysis of said fingerprints possibly would.

Telling identical fingerprints apart

Several chemical and hormonal contaminants exist that might end up in fingerprint grease in detectable amounts (given sufficiently advanced technology).

Also, the isotopic composition of said grease might yield valuable clues. For example living long enough in different solar systems would alter the relative isotope abundance in finger grease (which is mostly CHON), and that in turn could allow to tell the fingerprints apart.

Different Population I stars might sport different ratios of some elements (e.g. 14N and 15N). Living, breathing and eating proteins on such a star's planet would slowly alter an organism's isotope proportion to reflect that of the host planet.

Also, a young star's planet should experience less cosmic ray activity, therefore the abundance of 14C in the atmosphere would be lower. Planet climate, as well as the latitude at which the clone lived, also affects relative abundance of 18O.

$\endgroup$
15
$\begingroup$

Clones have fingerprints but do not have the same fingerprint. Fingerprints are not genetically created so even if they both had the same DNA they would have different fingerprints. The fingerprint is determined by the environment around it was created it and also many other things can alter it.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Does one's DNA have any effect on one's fingerprints, then? For example, would two clones from different progenitors in identical environments develop the same fingerprints? If not, would two clones from a single progenitor and with identical environments during their creation have the same fingerprints, or do they continue to develop afterwards? $\endgroup$ – nwn Jul 5 '16 at 14:39
  • 8
    $\begingroup$ Fingerprints DO have a large genetic component. But they are not exclusively genetically determined. $\endgroup$ – Ross Presser Jul 5 '16 at 17:08
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "Identical environments" is relative. Technically, identical twins are brought up in the same womb, and both share the property of having an identical twin in that womb. We still have the identity issue where technically twin A shares the womb with twin B, and since twin B does not share the womb with twin B, we can't really say that they share identical environments. But in any case, your fingerprints depend, in part, on what you touch in the womb - so you'd have to regulate that as well. $\endgroup$ – Jake Jul 5 '16 at 17:12
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I don't see how this got some many upvotes, this is just repeating what the OP says in his question. $\endgroup$ – dyesdyes Jul 6 '16 at 6:18
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @dyesdyes this post makes a declarative statement where the OP had a question. “do they?” “they do.”. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Jul 6 '16 at 8:47
5
$\begingroup$

A 3D printed clone would have whatever fingerprints were designed into it. A grown clone, or one assembled from separately grown tissues, would have fingerprints, but they wouldn't be the same as the original.

$\endgroup$
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I have read up on this and some websites say that even if 3D printed the fingerprint will shape with the environment around them may be wrong though $\endgroup$ – CrazySlayaNinjaBear Jul 5 '16 at 13:27
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I could believe that they might change after printing, but this would probably take days to weeks. $\endgroup$ – John Dallman Jul 5 '16 at 14:26
2
$\begingroup$

I don't even have the same fingerprints I was born with. I cut my thumb and my fingerprint changed to absorb the wound. The environmental variables outweigh the DNA in this case. The swirl patterns 'may' be the same, but the individual print would be different.

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.