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Indian Peafowl Feathers. Credit: USFWS

Students and Educators

LIBRARY OF MYSTERY PHOTOS

Snake Skeleton

Common Name: Snake
Scientific Name: Suborder Serpentes
Protected Status: Many snakes are protected under the U.S. ESA and CITES.
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story? The flexible nature of the snake skeleton aids locomotion.  Snake vertebrae can often be used to identify the species from which they came.

Snake Skeleton
Credit: USFWS.

Zebra

Common Name:  Grevyi’s Zebra
Scientific Name:  Equus grevyi
Protected Status:  U.S. ESA – Threatened; CITES—App. I.
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story?  Left side of skull between the eye orbit (upper left corner) and cheekteeth of an old zebra.

Zebra
Credit: USFWS.

Primate Teeth

Common Name:  Orangutan
Scientific Name:  Pongo  pygmaeus
Protected Status:  U.S. ESA – Endangered; CITES—App. I.
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story? The horizontal lines enhanced by artificial staining indicate periods of slow growth in this orangutan’s early development; the long cracks are from drying the skull.

Primate Teeth
Credit: USFWS.

Bird Breastbones

Common Name: American Woodcock breastbones
Scientific Name: Scolopax minor
Protected Status:  U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story? Woodcock are game birds and can be legally hunted in the Eastern U.S. However, commercial sale of their meat, as for all wild game, is illegal. All the breastbones shown were part of a case involving such sales of woodcock meat.

Bird Breastbones
Credit: USFWS.

Ivory Tusks and Carvings

Common Name:  Asian and African Elephants
Scientific Name:  Elephas maximus and Loxodonta africana
Protected Status:
Elephas maximus
: U.S. ESA – Endangered; CITES—App. I.
Loxodonta africana: U.S. ESA – Threatened; CITES – App. I or II, depending on subspecies and locality.
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story?  Most people think that ivory only comes from the tusks of elephants, but other species also produce ivory. View our Ivory Identification Guide for more information.

Ivory Tusks and Carvings
Credit: USFWS.

Orangutan Skull

Common Name:  Orangutan      
Scientific Name:  Pongo pygmaeus
Protected Status:  U.S. ESA – Endangered; CITES—App. I.
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story?  Orangutans are found on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo.  Their skulls are decorated and sold as tourist items.

Orangutan Skull
Credit: USFWS.

Rifle Cartridges

Item: Fired rifle cartridge case and extracted rifle bullet (30 caliber)
Laboratory Section: Criminalistics
What’s the Story? Submitted crime scene cartridge and bolt face and firing pin impression analysis.

Rifle Cartridges
Credit: USFWS.

Wild Pig Skull

Common Name: Babirusa
Scientific Name: Babyrousa babyrussa
Protected Status: U.S. ESA – Endangered; CITES – App. I
What’s the Story? The upper tusks of the Babirusa grow out of a socket that appears to be folded up against the nasal bones allowing the tusks to grow up and back over the skull.

Wild Pig Skull
Credit: USFWS.

Rhino head in bug colony

Common Name:  One-horned Asian Rhinoceros 
Scientific Name:  Rhinoceros unicornis
Protected Status: U.S. ESA – Endangered; CITES – App. I
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story?  Our dermestid beetle colony assists the scientists in two ways: the bugs eat the flesh off the bones (a.) of evidence items so cause of death can be more easily determined; and (b.) to clean carcasses for use as comparative skeletal specimens.

Rhino head in bug colony
Credit: USFWS.

Rhino Head under Black Light

Common Name:  Black Rhinoceros        
Scientific Name:  Diceros bicornis
Protected Status: U.S. ESA – Endangered; CITES – App. I
Laboratory Section: Criminalistics
What’s the Story? Dusting rhino horn for friction ridge detail

Rhino Head under Black Light
Credit: USFWS.

NOTICES:

  • These photos should not be used for identification purposes.  Detailed information to assist with selected species identification problems can be found at Publications and Identifications Guides.
  • For more information about Protected Status, view our U.S. Wildlife Laws page.
  • You may download these photos for educational purposes with credit to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), but cannot use them for commercial purposes or sell them.
  • Copyright © US Fish & Wildlife Service Forensics Laboratory.

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