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Here are some interesting facts about forensics and DNA:

  • New Zealand was the second country in the world to establish a databank of DNA profiles.
    Find out more about New Zealand's DNA Databank.
  • Your DNA is unique from your brothers and sisters because trillions of different combinations of your parents’ DNA are possible.
  • Koalas have fingerprints that are almost indistinguishable from human fingerprints.
  • Identical twins have identical DNA profiles because they develop from a single fertilised egg that splits into two.
    Find out more about twins.
  • You leave a trail behind you everywhere you go. The trail is made up of hairs, cells and body fluids.
  • DNA profiling has proven that an unusual bear shot in Canada’s Northwest was actually a cross between a grizzly bear and a polar bear.
  • When feeling the texture of a surface, the ridges in our skin, which are used for fingerprinting, heighten the intensity of stimulation of our nerve endings.
    Find out more about skin and touch.
  • No two fingerprints have ever been found alike.
  • The study of skin markings or patterns on fingers, hands and feet, used for fingerprinting or footprinting, is called dermatoglyphics.
  • The first criminal fingerprint identification was made in 1892 by Juan Vucetich. It proved that a mother had killed her sons.
  • Luminol is used at crime scenes to detect small amounts of blood. It reacts with iron in the haemoglobin and emits a blue light.
  • DNA profiling was used to identify the bodies of the Russian royal family who were murdered during the Russian Revolution in 1917.
  • DNA profiling was first performed by Sir Alec Jeffreys in England in 1984 and was introduced into New Zealand in the late 1980s.
    Find out more about DNA profiling.
  • DNA from a person’s body, from their skin, blood or saliva, is always the same.
  • Soil samples from clothes can be matched to crime scenes by profiling the DNA of microbes in the soil.
  • Bare footprints are unique to an individual in the same way that fingerprints are.
  • DNA is often found on half-eaten snacks or drink cans left behind at house burglaries.
  • DNA has been found in 400,000-year-old plants preserved in ice in Siberia.
  • The chance of two people having an identical DNA profile is 1 in 10 billion – except where they are identical twins.
  • The common house mouse appears all over the world. However scientists can tell where the mouse came from by the pollen caught in its fur.
  • By entering a crime scene just after a shooting, you can be covered with more gunshot residue than a shooter who runs away immediately.

Activity idea

Try this activity to help your students learn about the collection and processing of DNA evidence and use DNA profiling to solve a crime.
Crime scene DNA

The New Zealand Police Museum has some great forensic-related events. Check them out if you are in the Wellington area.

 

    Published 10 December 2016, Updated 12 October 2017