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Indian Peafowl Feathers. Credit: USFWS

Students and Educators

LIBRARY OF MYSTERY PHOTOS

X-RAY with Bullet Fragments

Laboratory Section: Criminalistics
What’s the Story? Coming soon...

X-RAY with Bullet Fragments
Credit: USFWS.

Kingfisher Feathers

Common Name: Grey-headed Kingfisher
Scientific Name:  Halcyon leucocephala
Protected Status:  Not protected by U.S. law or international treaty.
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story?  This is a close-up of the spread wing of a specimen of Grey-headed Kingfisher from the Lab’s reference collection.  Specimens like this are used to make identifications based on feather size, shape, color, and pattern.

Kingfisher Feathers
Credit: USFWS.

Parrot Feathers

Common Name: Amazon Parrots
Scientific Name: Genus Amazona
Protected Status: Varies:  CITES – App. I or App. II
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story? Amazon parrots (genus Amazona) are a diverse group that include many species popular as cage birds. All are protected in the wild.

Parrot Feathers
Credit: USFWS.

Pheasant Feather

Common Name: Great Argus pheasant
Scientific Name: Argusianus argus
Protected Status: CITES – App. II
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story?  This large pheasant of Southeast Asia possesses some of the most ornate and beautiful feathers in the world.  These feathers are sometimes seen in trade for their decorative value.

Pheasant Feather
Credit: USFWS.

Sea Turtle Shell

Common Name: Hawksbill Sea Turtle
Scientific Name: Eretmochelys imbricata
Protected Status: U.S. ESA – Endangered; CITES App. I
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story? The keratin based scutes from the shell of the hawksbill sea turtle are often used to make jewelry and other artifacts (commonly called “tortoiseshell”).  The commercial trade in sea turtle parts is prohibited.

Sea Turtle Shell
Credit: USFWS.

Cracks in Ivory

Common Name:  Elephant or Walrus tusk
Scientific Name:  Order Proboscidea or Order Carnivora
Protected Status:  varies
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story?  Fine cracks fill with stain from contact with soils or underwater substrates.  They form lengthwise, but are usually short and superficial, and can last the life of the animal without harm.

Cracks in Ivory
Credit: USFWS.

Rhinoceros horn

Common Name: Black Rhinoceros
Scientific Name: Diceros bicornis
Protected Status: U.S. ESA – Endangered; CITES – App. I
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story? A rhinos horn is composed entirely of keratin, like fingernails, but lacks a center core of bone like other animals with horns. This is a view of the bottom outer rim of the rhino’s horn (rim runs from lower right corner to almost center of upper frame), showing remnant of dried connective tissue (white wedge in upper right).

Rhinoceros horn
Credit: USFWS.

Rhinoceros horn

Common Name: Black Rhinoceros
Scientific Name: Diceros bicornis
Protected Status: U.S. ESA – Endangered; CITES – App. I
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story?  A rhino’s horn is composed of thousands of fibrils of keratin (same material as fingernails) arranged in a different matrix of solid keratin.  This view shows the dried out, concave underside of a rhino’s horn; the small dots are the ends of the fibrils.

Rhinoceros horn
Credit: USFWS.

Hornbill “Ivory”

Common Name: Carved beak of Helmeted Hornbill
Scientific Name: Buceros vigil
Protected Status: US Endangered Species Act – 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.

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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