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Indian Peafowl Feathers. Credit: USFWS

Students and Educators

LIBRARY OF MYSTERY PHOTOS

Snake Wine

Common Name: Keelback Snake and Vine Snake
Scientific Name: Xenochrophis and Ahaetulla
Protected Status: CITES App. III Xenochrophis piscator (India)
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story? In many parts of Asia, it is believed that placing snakes in rice wine provides medicinal benefits. Some of the snakes used are rare and endangered.

Snake Wine
Credit: USFWS.

Junglefowl Feathers

Common Name: Grey Junglefowl
Scientific Name: Gallus sonneratii
Protected Status:  CITES – App. II
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story?  Feathers of the Grey Junglefowl are popular in fly-tying.  Feathers from documented captive birds may be sold for this purpose, but not feathers from wild Grey Junglefowl.

Junglefowl Feathers
Credit: USFWS.

FingerprinT on Snake Skin

Common Name: Ball Python
Scientific Name: Python regius
Protected Status: CITES App. II
Laboratory Section: Criminalistics
What’s the Story? Fingerprint developed on heel/side of boot commingled with a shipment of legal products. 

Fingerprint on Snake Skin
Credit: USFWS.

Bear Skull

Common Name:  Grizzly or Brown Bear
Scientific Name:  Ursus arctos
Protected Status:  U.S. ESA – Endangered as U. arctos pruinosus, as U. arctos in Mexico, and as U. a.arctos in Italy.  Threatened as U.a.horribilis in the Lower 48 States except where listed as Experimental Non-Essential.  CITES — App.I as U. arctos (Mexico, Bhutan, China, and Mongolia pops.) and as U. a.isabellinus; otherwise App.II. 
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story?  Carnivores, like bears, have conical canine teeth; the gap between the sharp canine tooth and the next tooth is called a diastema.

Bear Skull
Credit: USFWS.

Bear Teeth

Common Name: Grizzly or Brown Bear
Scientific Name:  Ursus arctos
Protected Status:  U.S. ESA – Endangered as U. arctos pruinosus, as U. arctos in Mexico, and as U. a.arctos in Italy.  Threatened as U.a.horribilis in the Lower 48 States except where listed as Experimental Non-Essential.  CITES — App.I as U. arctos (Mexico, Bhutan, China, and Mongolia pops.) and as U. a.isabellinus; otherwise App.II. 
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story?  Measuring the length of the last upper cheektooth is useful in distinguishing black bear from grizzly bear skulls.

Bear Teeth
Credit: USFWS.

Necklace with claws and bones of bear

Common Name:  Grizzly or Brown Bear
Scientific Name:  Ursus arctos
Protected Status:  U.S. ESA – Endangered as U. arctos pruinosus, as U. arctos in Mexico, and as U. a.arctos in Italy.  Threatened as U.a.horribilis in the Lower 48 States except where listed as Experimental Non-Essential.  CITES — App.I as U. arctos (Mexico, Bhutan, China, and Mongolia pops.) and as U. a.isabellinus; otherwise App.II. 
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story? This image shows parts of toe bones of a grizzly bear’s paw; the small claw in the lower front is from a porcupine. Also adorning the necklace are seeds and vertebrae of snake.

Necklace with claws and bones of bear
Credit: USFWS.

Horns of Tibetan Antelope

Common Name: Tibetan Antelope
Scientific Name: Pantholops hodgsonii
Protected Status: U.S. ESA – Endangered; CITES – App. I
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story?   Like many antelope, goats, sheep, and cattle, the horns of the chiru or Tibetan antelope have raised ridges, rings, or crenulations which are useful in distinguishing the different species in the Order Artiodactyla.

Horns of Tibetan Antelope
Credit: USFWS.

Microscopic Hair Comparison

Common Name:  Two-toed Sloth
Scientific Name:  Choloepus sp.
Protected Status:  CITES—App. III (Costa Rica) as C. hoffmanni
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story?  Because of their rain forest environment, sloths can grow a form of algae on their hair, giving it a greenish appearance.

Microscopic Hair Comparison
Credit: USFWS.

Hair Micrograph

Common Name: White-tailed or Black-tailed deer
Scientific Name: Odocoileus virginianus or O. hemionus
Protected Status: Hunting is regulated by each state.
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story? Deer hair is not hollow. The inside of deer hair is composed of tightly packed cells which trap air and provide insulation against cold and heat.

Hair Micrograph
Credit: USFWS.

Crocodile Teeth

Common Name: Nile Crocodile
Scientific Name: Crocodylus niloticus
Protected Status: U.S. ESA – Threatened; CITES App. I or II depending on locality.
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story? Crocodile teeth are often used to make jewelry (such as necklaces) and sold to tourists in the wildlife trade.

Crocodile Teeth
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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