Role of External Ear in Establishing Personal Identity - A Short Review

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Review. Austin J Forensic Sci Criminol. 2015;2(2): 1023.

Role of External Ear in Establishing Personal Identity - A Short Review

Purkait R*

Department of Anthropology, University of Allahabad,India

*Corresponding author: Purkait R, Department of Anthropology, University of Allahabad, Allahabad, UP, India

Received: March 02, 2015; Accepted: April 20, 2015; Published: May 25, 2015


Since centuries external ear and its peculiarities had been attracting the attention of Scientists from diverse fields of Science. The possibility of using the external ear as a tool for establishing the unique identity of individuals was first recognized by Bertillon who included the same in the system he developed in 1893. Since then several studies on its range of peculiarities in morphology have emerged especially to correlate it with the field of personal identification. With the emergence of ‘Information age’ even the field of criminology has broadened its horizon by including more and more morphological features (face, hand, finger, iris etc.) for establishing identity. This paper traces this historical journey of the maturation study from the first step taken by Bertillon, to a foolproof personal identification trait that it is today.

Keywords: External ear; Personal identification; Ear biometrics; Soft biometrics


With the dawning of the ‘Information Age’ in the last century, several electronic gadgets have been invented to secure the society from the evil forces (e.g. Closed circuit television, Motion detection cameras, Infrared camera etc.) and the same were placed in most ‘perceived high risk areas’. For the same reasons and to establish unique personal identification in a more foolproof manner, morphological features other than face, like iris (eye), hand, finger scans etc. are being increasingly used across the world today. Furthering such foolproof identification, in recent years, external ear has emerged as a potential tool for forensic investigations and establishment of personal identification.

Ear: a tool for personal identification

As early as in eighteenth century the complex shape of ear had attracted the attention of early Physiologists Lavater [1]. On the basis of the various ear features he tried to classify the behavioural nature of human (Figure 1). The earliest reference to individuality of external ear was made by Bertillon [2] who mentioned in his book that it is almost impossible to meet with two ears which are identical in all their parts. Though Bertillon did not undertake any research work on the use of ear as personal identification tool, he had made the above observation from his experience gathered from working on anthroposcopy and anthropometry of criminals. He had formulated a system based on anthropometry to prevent repeat offenders from concealing their identity. But with time certain loopholes came to light in Bertillon age system and ultimately it was replaced with finger print.

Citation: Purkait R. Role of External Ear in Establishing Personal Identity - A Short Review. Austin J Forensic Sci Criminol. 2015;2(2): 1023. ISSN:2380-0801