A new study conducted in collaboration with Australia’s La Trobe University has found that ears are as distinctive as DNA or fingerprints, making them effective in identifying individuals. The research analyzed the appearance of over 2,200 ears from six countries.
According to Sudheer Balla, a forensics researcher at La Trobe University, ears are useful for identification purposes because they remain unchanged by facial expressions and emotions, and they are less affected by makeup compared to other biometrics like fingerprints and retina. Ears are relatively larger in size, easily visible from a distance, and can be captured by CCTV footage.
The study revealed that the probability of two individuals having the same type of ear is extremely low, with a uniqueness accuracy of 0.007. Even identical twins were found to have different ears. This uniqueness makes ears a valuable identifier for individuals.
In theory, if a clear image of a person’s ear is available, a forensics investigator could confirm their identity based on the shape of the ear. However, in practice, finding CCTV footage with a profile image of the suspect can be challenging. Nevertheless, even partially obscured ears can often provide enough information to confirm identity.
The knowledge of ear identification is particularly useful in areas such as the identification of bodies and victims. Some countries, like Spain, maintain a separate database for ear identification. In criminal cases where there is no other evidence available, such as fingerprints, CCTV footage showing profile images of ears has been used to identify suspects.
While further research and practical applications are needed, the study highlights the potential of ears as a unique biometric identifier with forensic applications.