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Indian Peafowl Feathers. Credit: USFWS

Students and Educators

LIBRARY OF MYSTERY PHOTOS

Carved Hornbill Skull

Common Name: Helmeted Hornbill
Scientific Name: Buceros vigil
Protected Status: U.S. ESA – Endangered; CITES App. I
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story? Helmeted Hornbills have an enlarged projection, called a casque, on the front of their beaks.  This is composed of dense material which can be finely carved.  Trade in such carvings is a threat to the survival of this species, which is found in Southeast Asia, Indonesia, and Borneo.

Carved Hornbill Skull
Credit: USFWS.

Caviar (fish eggs)

Common Name: Sturgeon eggs
Scientific Name: Acipenser sp.
Protected Status:  U.S. ESA Threatened or Endangered, depending of species; CITES – App. I or App. II depending of species.
Laboratory Section: Genetics
What’s the Story?  The US is one of the biggest importers of Caviar.  Certain species are endangered and their importation is prohibited.

Caviar (fish eggs)
Credit: USFWS.

Tiger Skin

Common Name:  Tiger
Scientific Name: Panthera tigris
Protected Status: U.S. ESA – Endangered; CITES – App. I
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story?  No other mammal has this combination of color and pattern, although a new breed of domestic cat, the “toyger,” has been designed to emulate it.

Tiger Skin
Credit: USFWS.

Shahtoosh Shawl

Common Name: Hair/wool of Tibetan Antelope
Scientific Name: Pantholops hodgsonii
Protected Status: U.S. ESA – Endangered; CITES – App.I
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story?  Shahtoosh is the fabric made from the wool of the Tibetan antelope, or chiru.  The diameter of each chiru fiber is about half that of common cashmere from domestic goats, but because the chiru dies when captured, it is always killed for its fleece unlike the goat.

Shahtoosh Shawl
Credit: USFWS.

Hair Micrograph

Common Name:  Saiga Antelope
Scientific Name:  Saiga tatarica             
Protected Status: U.S. ESA – Endangered as S.t.mongolica; CITES – App.II
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story?   Overlapping scales form the outer covering of most mammalian hairs.  The undulations of the edges, the distance between edges, and the shape of the scales are traits that can vary between groups of mammals and aid in the microscopic identification of animal hairs.

Hair Micrograph
Credit: USFWS.

Fingerprint on Ivory

Common Name: African elephant
Scientific Name: Loxodonta africana
Protected Status: U.S. ESA – Threatened; CITES – App. I or II, depending on subspecies and locality.
Laboratory Section: Criminalistics
What’s the Story?  Developed print on raw ivory tusk seized from smuggling.

Fingerprint on Ivory
Credit: USFWS.

Fingerprint on Reptile Leather

Common Name: Crocodilian
Scientific Name: Order Crocodylia
Protected Status: Crocodylia (U.S. ESA – Some are Endangered or Threatened depending on species; CITES – App. I or II depending on species or population).
Laboratory Section: Criminalistics
What’s the Story? Fingerprint residues visualized on individual crocodile scale from designer purse.

Fingerprint on Reptile Leather
Credit: USFWS.

Fishing fly with feathers and hair

Common Name:  Birds and Mammals
Scientific Name:  Class Aves and Class Mammalia
Protected Status:  varies
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story? This fishing fly is constructed from the feathers and hair of various birds and mammals including turkey (dyed) and pheasants and deer and polar bears.

Fishing fly with feathers and hair
Credit: USFWS.

Monkey Skulls

Common Name: Various Species, including baboon and macaques
Scientific Name:  Order Primates, Family Cercopithecidae
Protected Status: All primates are protected by international treaty (U.S. ESA or CITES)
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story? In some countries, monkeys are eaten, and their skulls are sold as tourist trinkets.

Monkey Skulls
Credit: USFWS.

Snuff bottle of Hornbill “Ivory”

Common Name: Carved from the beak of Helmeted Hornbill
Scientific Name: Buceros vigil
Protected Status: U.S. ESA – Endangered; CITES App. I
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story?  Helmeted Hornbills have an enlarged projection, called a casque, on the front of their beaks.  This is composed of dense material which can be finely carved.  Trade in such carvings is a threat to the survival of this species, which is found in Southeast Asia, Indonesia, and Borneo.

Snuff bottle of Hornbill “Ivory”
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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