Forensic Test Can Determine Person’s Eye and Hair Color
2012-09-05 0:00

By Makini Brice |

A forensic test that has been developed to help police nab perpetrators of crimes can predict a suspect’s eye color, hair color, and ethnic origin.

The test’s ability and the science behind it has been outlined in Forensic Science International: Genetics. Developed by Susan Walsh and other researchers from the Netherlands, Greece, and Poland, the test uses phenotypes from DNA to determine a suspect’s eye color, hair color, or place of ethnic origin. Even more extraordinarily, the HIrisPlex system can predict a suspect’s appearance using "low amounts of template DNA, as well as degraded DNA," which means that the DNA does not need to be perfect in order for the system to read it.

Current tools are based on genetic profiling, which compares DNA from a crime scene with DNA stored in a database. But that method requires the DNA to already be in the system, which makes it largely unusable if the DNA comes from a perpetrator’s first crime or if the perpetrator has never left DNA at a crime scene before.

The test is not perfect but it is pretty accurate. According to the article’s abstract, "the individual-based prediction accuracies employing a prediction-guided approach were 69.5% for blond, 78.5% for brown, 80% for red and 87.5% for black hair colour on average...We furthermore demonstrate that it is possible to infer with a prediction accuracy of >86% if a brown-eyed, black-haired individual is of non-European (excluding regions nearby Europe) versus European (including nearby regions) bio-geographic origin solely from the strength of HIrisPlex eye and hair colour probabilities, which can provide extra intelligence for future forensic applications."

Read the full article at:

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