When Nature Deals
A Sleight of Hands
Not to point any fingers, but when it comes to physically identifying someone, it’s no longer safe to rely on memory or anatomy alone. The issue is naturally crucial for law enforcement, and police departments all over have alreadyrevised old guidelines for fingerprinting and lining up suspects, so to adapt to more scientific methods of identification.
Memory does play tricks and someone’s recollection of an event is conditioned by subjective factors and plagued by all sorts of potential distortions. So is the analysis of someone’s marks and crevices at the tip of their fingers, long considered gospel in police work.
At the end of the day, suspects should be positively identified based on a comprehensive set of parameters, rather than how they look to someone, or whether they’re born with more digits or have no fingerprints at all.
Speaking of which, meet Yoandri Garrido, a Cuban who has two extra fingers and two extra toes. In itself, the condition, polydactyly, is not extremely rare neither in humans nor animals. But it is in the case of Garrido, because his extensions are perfect and functional.
EXTRA FINGERS OR NO PRINTS AT ALL
You may go out of your mind, thinking about what you would do with them, and why you should be so lucky. But for him, the freak of nature is a bliss, making him a superior coconut picker and a favorite of tourists, who’d pay up to $10 for his picture. So, stop whining, will ya?
Of course, unlike you, there’re some who may think they’re lucky exactly for not having any distinguished anatomical feature, easy to be picked up by the accusatory finger of a witnesses.
Now, you may go ahead and congratulate yourself for not being someone who needs to be concerned about other people’s testimony against them.
Adermatoglyphia is an even more unusual condition: lack of fingertips. It’s thought that it can have several different causes, but the main one is a genetic mutation. It’s been recently found in nine members of a Swiss family of 16 (don’t ask), who could easily slip through a crime scene undetected, but who’d also have a hard time crossing country borders.
As it turns out, immigration officials of all nationalities have little patience with those who lack fingertips, but we won’t get into that just yet. Suffice to say that scientists are learning a thing or two about genetic mutation of the kind that caused this family of Robinsons (so to speak) to have the majority but not all of its members sharing the condition.
Again, you may envy their predicament for a second (more)
* A Farewell to Furs