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Everyone has a unique set of fingerprints (yes, even identical twins). For decades, this anatomical fact has been invaluable in the fields of forensics and criminal justice, where "prints" are widely used for identifying suspects. Fingerprints have an important use for law-abiding citizens, too, as they provide biometric identification for technology such as smartphones.
Yet there's another part of the human body that is just as unique – and arguably better for identification purposes. Just as everyone has their own set of fingerprints, every human tongue has its own distinctive appearance.
Tongue characteristics such as shape and texture are different for every individual. Some people have short tongues, while others have longer ones. Regarding texture, the layout of ridges, wrinkles, and marks found on the tongue differs for every person.
In addition to their use in forensics, tongue prints could one day form the basis for highly reliable personal security measures. While fingerprints and even iris patterns could be copied without a person’s permission, the tongue is a far less accessible target for counterfeiting or identity theft. This makes the human tongue an ideal candidate for identification purposes, though you're not likely to hear police asking suspects to stick out their tongues anytime soon.
All hail the unique tongue:
- Numerous biometric systems are used for security reasons, including the retinal scan, palm print scan, voice analysis, fingerprints, and facial scan. Each of these methods, however, is somewhat vulnerable to security breaches. Fingerprints, for example, can be eroded and altered. Voices can change due to a variety of reasons, such as illness. The uniqueness of a person’s tongue makes it an ideal identifier.
- Technology for tongue analysis includes the use of a high-tech digital camera that is capable of recording extremely small details in bright colors. Another method, known as pixel fusion technology, is able to show the tongue’s most subtle details. Software can also be utilized to analyze high-resolution images to create maps and graphs of the tongue's unique features.
- Men typically have longer and wider tongues than women. Muscle fibers in the tongue also differ between the sexes.