London: In a finding that can make identification of criminals easier, a study has found that external ears of different persons, even if related, are never exactly the same and remained unchanged till the age of 60.
According to a study conducted by the anthropology department of Dr H S Gour Central University in Madhya Pradesh, external ear of different persons are never exactly the same and the left and right ears of the same person are distinctly different.
"We found that the shape and size of the external ear of one individual is different from another, whether related or not, and the left and right ears of the same person are also different. The study was carried out on more than 1,000 people," forensic anthropologist Ruma Purkait said.
The external ear can be used to identify a criminal because the fingerprint are not always available at the scene of the crime and a forensic expert has to depend on images usually acquired through surveillance camera. But personal identification from facial images has its own drawbacks like effect of ageing, facial expression, disguise with artificial beard, moustache, sun glasses etc, she said.
"So this feature (external ear) can be used as an alternative tool for identification of an individual. More studies are being carried out in this regard as it answers the drawbacks associated with fingerprint or facial photograph," she said.
Based on the findings, which was published in International Plastic Surgery Journal, IIT-Kanpur has developed a software which can do ear analysis for developing an external ear database, she said.
As per the study, the ear stops growing after 14 years in case of girls and 15 years in case of boys. Once a person attains 60 years, the ear starts elongating due to loss of elasticity.
"Since constancy over time is one of the essential trait of identification, the study emphasised that the ear can be used as an identification tool with a ceiling age of 60 years after which they need to update their data from time to time," Purkait said.