Environmental effects on magnetic fluorescent powder development of fingermarks on bird of prey feathers

H. McMorris*, K. Sturrock, D. Gentles, Benjamin J. Jones, K. J. Farrugia*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)
    186 Downloads (Pure)


    A comparison study of the effects of environmental conditions on the development of latent fingermarks on raptor feathers using green magnetic fluorescent powder was undertaken using both sebaceous loaded and natural fingermark deposits. Sparrowhawk feathers were stored in indoor conditions for 60 days (Study 1), and buzzard feathers were left exposed to two different environmental conditions (hidden and visible) for 21 days (Study 2), with developments made at regular ageing periods. In Study 1, latent fingermarks were successfully developed (Grade 1–4) on the indoor feathers up to 60 days after deposition – 98.6% of the loaded deposits and 85.3% for natural deposits. Under outdoor conditions in Study 2, both loaded and natural deposits were affected by environmental exposure. Latent fingermarks were successfully developed up to 14 days after deposition on the outdoor feathers, with some occasional recovery after 21 days. The visible feathers recorded 34.7% (loaded) and 16.4% (natural) successful developments (Grade 1–4), whereas the hidden feathers recorded 46.7% (loaded) and 22.2% (natural) successful developments, suggesting that protection from the environment helps to preserve latent fingermarks on the surface of a feather. Environmental exposure accelerated the deterioration of ridge detail and the number of successful developments.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)117-124
    Number of pages8
    JournalScience & Justice
    Issue number2
    Early online date24 Sep 2018
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019


    • Wildlife crime
    • Raptor persecution
    • Fingermarks
    • Environment
    • Feathers


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