Criminals and their ears

In his post yesterday, Chuck mentioned that police were using "earprints" to track down criminals. The use of earprints may be something new, but the use of ears to identify criminals is actually pretty old.

Back in the late 19th century, the French detective Alphonse Bertillon developed an elaborate ear classification system, in the belief that ears could be used as a unique means of identification, in the same way that fingerprints were. The Strand Magazine (May 1904) ran an article, with accompanying ear pictures, about Bertillon's system:

The feature that presents the greatest diversity of form and size is the ear, and, strangely enough, the ear is precisely a feature which we hardly ever consciously look at. It has been reserved for M. Bertillon to point out how admirably it is adapted for the purpose of establishing a person's identity. The size of the ear, the relative proportions to one another of the folds, its contour, the surface and shape of the lobe, the manner the lobe is attached to the cheek, and the inclination of the bottom interior ridge known as the antitragus differ most materially in every individual. Let a modern French detective describe an ear as "Deq. cav. vex. tra. sep"; all his colleagues are immediately able to form a mental image of the description of ear he means.

Bertillon's ear classification system was quite influential. It's the reason that police started taking mugshots from the side, as well as from the front, so that they could get a picture of the criminal's ear.
     Posted By: Alex - Mon Aug 12, 2013
     Category: Crime | Nineteenth Century

I heard that!
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 08/12/13 at 10:13 AM
"Lend me your ears and I'll Sing you a song ..."
Posted by KDP on 08/12/13 at 10:53 AM
I seem to remember that was a big deal in Batman comics in the 1950s - he used a system of ear-identification of criminals.
Posted by Due of URL on 08/12/13 at 11:26 AM
I find the picture of all those ears somewhat disturbing for some reason.
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 08/12/13 at 09:12 PM
When I got my Green Card, lo these many moons ago, the picture had to be taken as a 3/4 view, with the right ear showing. No, I don't know what they do if you don't have a right ear.
Posted by TheCannyScot in Atlanta, GA on 08/13/13 at 10:22 AM
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