Chalmers Conferences, 9th European Conference on Mathematical and Theoretical Biology

The mechanical and the neurogenic hypothesis for fingerprint formation
Michael Kücken

Last modified: 2014-03-28


The processes involved in the generation of papillary ridges on fingers, palms and soles (commonly called fingerprints) are still not well-understood. It has been conjectured by a large number of authors that the pattern is formed as folding of a skin layer. On the other hand, there is significant evidence that the nervous system and the Merkel cells in the epidermis play a very important role in the generation of fingerprint patterns. A simple buckling model captures many aspects of fingerprint formation well - especially the connection between the shape of the embryonal finger pad and the pattern type. An alternative is a simple particle-based model for the Merkel cells. This model has the advantage of being biologically more realistic  and producing patterns with less artifacts than the buckling model. Further, it gives an explanation why fingerpint patterns are indeed unique.


papillary ridges; Merkel cells; fingerprints; cell-based mode; buckling