Variability of footprint ridge density and its use in estimation of sex in forensic examinations

Kewal Krishan, Tanuj Kanchan, Annu Pathania, Ruchika Sharma, John A. DiMaggio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


The present study deals with a comparatively new biometric parameter of footprints called footprint ridge density. The study attempts to evaluate sex-dependent variations in ridge density in different areas of the footprint and its usefulness in discriminating sex in the young adult population of north India. The sample for the study consisted of 160 young adults (121 females) from north India. The left and right footprints were taken from each subject according to the standard procedures. The footprints were analysed using a 5 mm × 5 mm square and the ridge density was calculated in four different well-defined areas of the footprints. These were: F1 – the great toe on its proximal and medial side; F2 – the medial ball of the footprint, below the triradius (the triradius is a Y-shaped group of ridges on finger balls, palms and soles which forms the basis of ridge counting in identification); F3 – the lateral ball of the footprint, towards the most lateral part; and F4 – the heel in its central part where the maximum breadth at heel is cut by a perpendicular line drawn from the most posterior point on heel. This value represents the number of ridges in a 25 mm2 area and reflects the ridge density value. Ridge densities analysed on different areas of footprints were compared with each other using the Friedman test for related samples. The total footprint ridge density was calculated as the sum of the ridge density in the four areas of footprints included in the study (F1 + F2 + F3 + F4). The results show that the mean footprint ridge density was higher in females than males in all the designated areas of the footprints. The sex differences in footprint ridge density were observed to be statistically significant in the analysed areas of the footprint, except for the heel region of the left footprint. The total footprint ridge density was also observed to be significantly higher among females than males. A statistically significant correlation is shown in the ridge densities among most areas of both left and right sides. Based on receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis, the sexing potential of footprint ridge density was observed to be considerably higher on the right side. The sexing potential for the four areas ranged between 69.2% and 85.3% on the right side, and between 59.2% and 69.6% on the left side. ROC analysis of the total footprint ridge density shows that the sexing potential of the right and left footprint was 91.5% and 77.7% respectively. The study concludes that footprint ridge density can be utilised in the determination of sex as a supportive parameter. The findings of the study should be utilised only on the north Indian population and may not be internationally generalisable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)284-290
Number of pages7
JournalMedicine, Science and the Law
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 01-10-2015
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Health Policy
  • Law


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