Can you lose your fingerprints with age?

Fingerprints, also called epidermal ridges, probably developed through human evolution to help us grip rough surfaces and to improve surface contact in wet conditions.  The same types of epidermal ridges exist on our feet, which have distinctive toe prints as well.

Fingerprints form in the womb, during the first trimester.  As the fetus develops, the growing layers of skin are straining and stretching, and this is what forms fingerprints.

There are three basic types of fingerprint patterns:  Loop, whorl, and arch.

Some animals have fingerprints! Gorillas, chimpanzees, and koalas all have them, and the koalas are very close to the appearance of human fingerprints.

Can you lose your fingerprints?  People who use their hands all day especially on rough surfaces, such as bricklayers, can wear down their fingerprints.  Fingerprints can also become less prominent with age due to decreased skin elasticity, making it hard to use the fingerprint reader of phones and electronic scanners.

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