The findings were published in American Journal of Physical Anthropology.
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They looked at both the level one details, such as pattern types and ridge counts, and the level two details, which are more specific variations such as bifurcations – where ridges split - ridge endings and other structures.
They analysed the prints of 61 African American women, 61 African American men, 61 European American women and 60 European American men.
While they could not find any significant differences between men and women, they did find significant differences in the level two details of fingerprints between people of European and African descent.
Professor Ross, who worked on the project with student Nichole Fournier, said: 'The Level 2 detail that was significant for ancestry was total bifurcations.
'The frequency of total number of bifurcations differed significantly between groups with African Americans showing a higher frequency of this trait.'
This meant that black people tended to have around 5 per cent more bifurcations than those who were white.
It raises the possibility that there may be more details contained within fingerprints which may help trace a person's ancestry.
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