This article has little to do with literature, unless you consider detective fiction. Fingerprints or the patterns made of arches, whorls and loops are a staple find in whodunnits and the idea of solving a crime using the marks made ridges and furrows on the hands has been around since the time of Babylonia and the Qin Dynasty in China. William Herschel observed the Indian custom of inking hands and Faulds asked Darwin’s help in collecting skin furrows only to receive Galton’s help instead. Even Mark Twain mentions this forensic science.
Later on fingerprinting blossomed into a fantastic reference system.
“The FBI relied on a system of reference—worked out before the turn of the century by the head of London’s Metropolitan Police—that described fingerprints with symbols.”
Do you know that koalas have fingerprints? For more on the fascinating explanation of biometrics read The Surprising History of Fingerprints by Chantel Tattoli.