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The skin patterns of the toes and heels are as distinctive and permanent
as those of the fingers. Hence in some maternity hospitals the system of
taking the impressions of footprints of newly-born infants has lately been

Fig. 14.—Footprints:  Standing and Walking.

introduced to avoid the confusion of their being mixed or to prevent their
deliberate substitution or changeling. These form a permanent record for
future identification.


Deformities form an excellent means of identification, hence they should
be very carefully noted in the description of the person of a living individual
or in the external examination of a dead body. They may be congenital
or acquired. Congenital deformities, such as cleft-palate, harelip, super-
numerary fingers or toes, supplementary mammae, web-fingers or toes, birth-
marks (nsevi) and moles, are hereditary in many cases, and are known to
occur through successive generations in the same family.

Dr. Young of Parkhead, Glasgow, has recorded a very interesting case in which he
could trace the hereditary digital abnormality through four generations ; it had been
transmitted almost invariably from the paternal side.5T A genealogical tree is given of a

57.   Brit Med. Jour., Sep. 10, 1898, p. 715.