You can't. At least, not from a single
print. A fingerprint is just a pattern ,
and viewing one in isolation doesn't really tell
you anything (
not even that it was made by a human,
though there is some evidence for differences
gender ). The significance of
fingerprints is that they are unique to each
individual (even identical twins have
different fingerprints), and they do not change
over time. This means that they can be used to
identify an individual by matching an unknown
pattern (such as a fingerprint found on a piece of
evidence from a crime) with a pattern which is
known to be associated with a particular
individual (a fingerprint recorded at some other
time when the owners' identity could be
conclusively tied to that print).
As an aside,
techniques to extract more information from
fingerprints are being developed, but they do not
rely on the patterns themselves. Rather, they
utilize residual chemicals and molecules which
were on the finger and are left on the surface.
I don't think there is a way to tell. One
of the ways that fingerprints are described is the
general shape. There are 3 main categories:
loop, whorl, and arch. Loops could open
either to the right or the left. Here's a site
where you can see the three types:
Loops on either hand could open in either
direction. Identical twins apparently have
fingerprints that are the mirror image of each
You can take your own fingerprints using an ink
pad and a card or paper. If you have a magnifying
glass, it's easier to study the prints.
Thanks for asking.
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