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Hi, Matt:

Do identical twins have identical fingerprints?

-- Bob, telephonically

Their DNA will be a match, but their fingerprints won't be. The human genome carries only so much basic information, beyond which our developing bodies are subject to the winds of chance. In the fingerprint department, there may be broad similarities in twins' patterns, but the telling details -- the breaks in ridge patterns, for example -- aren't coded into the helix. They are influenced by factors such as the position of the fetus in the womb and the internal chemical environment of each hand as the ridges develop (between the third and fourth months of gestation). Because the intrauterine environment is slightly different for each twin, their prints (and other physical details) will be different too. Same goes for clones. We couldn't produce another Bob that was an exact match in all excruciating detail. Nor would we want to, probably.

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