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Mountain Zebra Skin. Credit: USFWS

Publications & ID Notes

ID NOTES AND GUIDES

Identification Notes and Guides for Wildlife Law Enforcement

This section contains specific techniques for identifying a variety of selected animals. Most notes are illustrated to facilitate identification. Identification Notes are written at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Forensics Laboratory. The categories include:

Mammals
Birds
Reptiles and Amphibians
Fish
Invertebrates

You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the PDF documents.


MAMMALS

Tusk or Bone?: An Example of Fake Walrus Ivory in the Wildlife Trade (PDF 266 KB)

Comparison of Black Bear Paws to Human Hands and Feet (PDF 422 KB)

Distinguishing Real vs Fake Tiger Penises (PDF 583 KB)
To provide an introduction to tiger penis morphology and an identification aid for distinguishing real tiger penises from fakes.

Bear Claws - Real and Fake (PDF 1056 KB)
To provide an introduction to mammal claw morphology and an identification aid for distinguishing genuine bear and cat claws from fakes.

Bear and Cat Claws (PDF 407 KB)
To provide an introduction to mammal claw morphology and an identification aid for distinguishing bear and cat claws.

Identification Guidelines for Shahtoosh and Pashmina (PDF 3377 KB)

Bontebok, Blunt, Le Bonte, Blesbok, Blessbock. (PDF 139 KB)
Scientific Name: Damaliscus pygargus dorcas, D. pygargus phillipsi
Common Names
: Bontebok, Blunt, Le Bonte, Blesbok, Blessbock.

Grevy's zebra; Mountain, Cape mountain, or Hartmann's zebra; Plains, Grant's, Chapman's, Burchell's, Damaraland, Bohm's, Selous's bontequagga zebra (respectively). (PDF 146 KB)
Scientific Name: Perissodactyla: Equus grevyi, E. zebra, E. burchelli
Common Names
: Grevy's zebra; Mountain, Cape mountain, or Hartmann's zebra; Plains, Grant's, Chapman's, Burchell's, Damaraland, Bohm's, Selous's bontequagga zebra (respectively).

Mammalian Teeth Based On Function (PDF 289 KB)

Distinguishing the Claws of Mammals and Birds (PDF 120 KB)

Annotated bibliography for Mammal Bone Identification (PDF 242 KB)

Microscopic Distinctions in the Kemp Fibers of the Tibetan Antelope (PDF 5190 KB)
Scientific Name: Pantholops hodgsonii
Common Names
: Tibetan Antelope

Identification of Ocelot, Margay, and Leopard Cat Pelts (PDF 3869 KB)
Scientific Name: Leopardus/ Prionailurus
Common Names
: Margay, Ocelot, Leopard Cat

"Fangs" Distinguishing canine teeth of ursids and felids (PDF 153 KB)

Identification of Mid-size Cat Skulls (PDF 418 KB)

Macroscopic Identification of Rhinoceros Horn versus Cattle Horn (PDF 394 KB)


BIRDS

Identification of Bald and Golden Eagle Feathers (PDF 3.7 MB; 6/20/2014)

Identification Guide to Decorative Feathers of Pheasants, Chickens, Turkeys and Related Birds (PDF 19.1 MB; 7/26/12)

What is "Marabou"? (PDF 694 KB)
Scientific Name: Leptoptilos crumeniferus.
Common Name: Marabou Stork

Identifying Wings of North American Grouse, Prairie Chickens,Pheasant, and Partridge (PDF 848 KB)

Identifying the Flight Feathers of the Large Macaws (PDF 509 KB)

Identification of Eagle Feathers and Feet (PDF 1499 KB)

Differentiating the Tail Feathers of Band-tailed Pigeons and Rock Doves (PDF 457 KB)

Differentiating the Tail Feathers of Mourning, White-winged and Inca Doves (PDF 475 KB)

Wing Feathers (PDF 898 KB) Introduction to topography of the Avian wing

Recognizing the Feet and Talons of North American Birds of Prey

Key to Families of Diurnal Birds of Prey (PDF 160 KB)
Scientific Names: Falconiformes.
Common Name: eagle, falcon, hawk, vulture. File size: 110K 

Feather morphology (PDF 126 KB)

Three galliform feather types common in the trade (PDF 127 KB)
Scientific Name: Gallus gallus var. domesticus, Meleagrus gallopavo, Numida melegris.
Common Name
: Chicken, Turkey, Helmeted Guineafow (respectively)

Distinguishing female Wood Ducks from female Mandarin Ducks. (PDF 104 KB)
Scientific Names: Aix sposa, Aix galericulata.
Common Name: Wood Duck, Mandarin Duck (respectively).

Recognizing the feathers of Gray Junglefowl. (PDF 157 KB)

Scientific Name: Gallus sonneratii.
Common Names
: Grey Junglefowl, Jungle Cock.

Parts of a Bird (PDF 87 KB)

Distinguishing the claws of mammals and birds (PDF 152 KB)

Recognizing the wing flight feathers of Turkey and Peafowl. (PDF 182 KB)
Scientific Name: Galliformes.
Common Names
: galliforms

Recognizing the body feathers of male Ring-necked Pheasant. (PDF 269 KB)
Scientific Name: Phasianus colchicus.
Common Names
: Ring-necked Pheasant

Fishing Flies (PDF 46 KB)


REPTILES

Yellow-footed tortoise, Red-footed Tortoise (respectively). (PDF 46 KB)
Scientific Name: Geochelone denticulata, Geochelone carbonaria.
Common Names
: Yellow-footed tortoise, Red-footed Tortoise (respectively).

Sea Turtles. (PDF 55 KB)
Scientific Name: Cheloniidae.
Common Names
: Sea Turtles.

Alligator, Crocodile, Caiman, Gharial. (PDF 131 KB)
Scientific Name: Crocodylia.
Common Names
: Alligator, Crocodile, Caiman, Gharial.

Loggerhead (sea) Turtle. (PDF 83 KB)
Scientific Name: Caretta caretta.
Common Names
: Loggerhead (sea) Turtle.

Green (Sea) Turtle. (PDF 66 KB)
Scientific Name: Chelonia mydas.
Common Names
: Green (Sea) Turtle.

Hawksbill (Sea) Turtle (PDF 78 KB)
Scientific Name: Eretmochelys imbricata.
Common Names
: Hawksbill (Sea) Turtle.

Olive Ridley (Sea) Turtle. (PDF 74 KB)
Scientific Name: Lepidochelys olivacea.
Common Names
: Olive Ridley (Sea) Turtle.

Kemp's Ridley (Sea) Turtle. (PDF 77 KB)
Scientific Name: Lepidochelys kempii.
Common Names
: Kemp's Ridley (Sea) Turtle.

Snake scales. (PDF 86 KB)


AMPHIBIANS

Tiger Salamander (PDF 54 KB)
Scientific Names: Ambystoma mexicanum, A. tigrinum.
Common Names
: Axolotl,Tiger Salamander.

Tiger Salamander (PDF 75 KB)
Scientific Names: Ambystoma mexicanum, A. tigrinum.
Common Names
: Axolotl, Tiger Salamander.

Tomato Frog (PDF 95 KB)
Scientific Names: Dyscophus antongilii, D. guineti, D. insularis.
Common Name
: Tomato Frog.


FISH
Giant Catfish, High Fin Catfish, Pla Tepa. (PDF 65 KB)
Scientific Name: Pangasius sanitwongsei.
Common Names
: Giant Catfish, High Fin Catfish, Pla Tepa. 

Dragonfish, arowana, bon tongue (PDF 82 KB)
Scientific Name: Scleropages formosus.
Common Names
: Dragonfish, arowana, bon tongue. 


INVERTEBRATES

Mitten crab, Shanghai crab, Chinese Mitten crab. (PDF 81 KB)
Scientific Name: Eriocheir sp.
Common Names
: Mitten crab, Shanghai crab, Chinese Mitten crab.

Apple, red,or tiger coral; coral sea fan; red stone or limestone. (PDF 58 KB)
Scientific Name: Melithaeidae: Melithaea sp.
Common Names
: Apple, red, or tiger coral; coral sea fan; red stone or limestone.

Red-kneed tarantula, Red-legged tarantula. (PDF 82 KB)
Scientific Name: Euathlus smithi.
Common Names
: Red-kneed tarantula, Red-legged tarantula.

 

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