Fingerprints are composed of a unique combination of ridges that make patterns of loops, deltas and arches, as well as ending ridges, broken ridges, island ridges, forks, dots, bridges, spurs, eyes, bifurcations and other distinguishing marks. Fingerprinting is the only notably unchanged and infallible means of identifying individuals. In 80 years of fingerprint classification, no two identical sets have been found.
Unique fingerprints are formed seven months after conception. Although the size of each finger will continue to grow from pre-birth to childhood to adulthood, the relative position of ridges (with their loops, deltas and arches) will remain the same.
A perfect fingerprint will yield 175 to 180 points of information. Twelve points (less than 10 percent of a fingerprint) are required to convict in a federal court, and as few as five points may be used to convict in many jurisdictions. In other words, a far-from-perfect print will still yield positive identification information.