U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Forensics Laboratory

Forensics Lab Home
Science Professionals
Agents and Insectors
Students and Educators
Publications and ID Notes
The Feather Atlas
Lab Tour
Lab News
About Us
Contact Us
Site Map

Indian Peafowl Feathers. Credit: USFWS

Students and Educators

LIBRARY OF MYSTERY PHOTOS

Scanning Electron Micrograph of Hair

Common Name:  Tibetan Antelope
Scientific Name:  Pantholops hodgsonii
Protected Status: U.S. ESA – Endangered; CITES – App.I
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story? At a magnification of 25,000 times normal, one of the fine fibers that make up shahtoosh, the fabric of shawls made from the wool of a Tibetan Antelope, shows its diagnostic pointed edge.

Scanning Electron Micrograph of  Hair
Credit: USFWS.

Cartridge Casing at a Crime Scene

Item: .22 rim fire long rifle cartridge
Laboratory Section: Criminalistics
What’s the Story? Cartridge found at crime scene

Cartridge Casing at a Crime Scene
Credit: USFWS.

Bug Colony at Work

Common Name:  Domestic Dog
Scientific Name:  Canis familiaris
Protected Status:  Protected and controlled by civil statutes
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story?  Even though pet dogs are not threatened or endangered as species, morphologists need to be able to identify their bones, too.  The bugs help by eating the flesh off of the bones.

Bug Colony at Work
Credit: USFWS.

Pashmina (cashmere) Shawl

Common Name: Hair of Domestic Goat
Scientific Name: Capra hircus
Protected Status: None
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story?  Cashmere is the name of the fabric made from wool of the little goats raised in the high Himalayan country of Kashmir.  The fibers are very fine (14um – 20 um), but they are not as fine as those of the Tibetan Antelope, which are consistently less than 14um in diameter.

Pashmina (cashmere) Shawl
Credit: USFWS.

Traditional Chinese Medicinals

Item: Vials of bear bile smuggled into the US
Scientific Name:  Ursus sp.
Protected Status:  U.S. ESA – Threatened as U. americanus luteolus; all other subspecies are covered by Similarity of Appearance to a Threatened Species;  CITES – App.II
Laboratory Section: Chemistry
What’s the Story? Bear bile, which has been used for traditional medicinal purposes, is smuggled in to the US to satisfy the demand from specific ethnic buyers.

Traditional Chinese Medicinals
Credit: USFWS.

Ivory Carving

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?  This figurine is carved from elephant ivory.  While elephant tusks are the most common source of ivory, a variety of other species also produce ivory that appears in wildlife trade. View our Ivory Identification Guide for more information.

Ivory Carving
Credit: USFWS.

Reptile Leather Boots

Common Name: Crocodilian; Tegu Lizard; Green Iguana (left to right)
Scientific Name: Order Crocodylia; Tupinambis species; Iguana iguana (left to right)
Protected Status:
Crocodylia (U.S. ESA – Some are Endangered or Threatened depending on species; CITES – App. I or II depending on species or population);
Tupinambis (CITES – App. II);
Iguana iguana
(CITES – App. II)
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story? Many species of reptiles are used to make leather.  Examples here include crocodilians, tegu lizard, and green iguana.

Reptile Leather Boots
Credit: USFWS.

Tapir Skull

Common Name: Malayan tapir
Scientific Name:  Tapirus indicus
Protected Status:  U.S. ESA – Endangered; CITES – App.I
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story?  Skeletons and skulls of zoo animals are very useful in wildlife forensics.

Tapir Skull
Credit: USFWS.

Mastodon or Mammoth Tusk

Common Name: Mastodon or Mammoth species
Scientific Name: Mammut or Mammuthus species
Protected Status: None (already extinct)
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story? The tusks of certain species of extinct elephants, including the famous Wooly Mammoth, have preserved since the last Ice Age, and substitute for ivory from extant (living today) species.

Mastodon or Mammoth Tusk
Credit: USFWS.

Sampling for Genetic Analysis

Item: Electronic pipettor
Laboratory Section: Genetics
What’s the Story?  Analysis of small quantities of biological material requires precise volumetric measurements. In some instance we need to transfer volumes as small as fractions of a microliter.

Sampling for Genetic Analysis
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.

BACK TO TOP

U.S. Department of Interior Logo