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Indian Peafowl Feathers. Credit: USFWS

Students and Educators

LIBRARY OF MYSTERY PHOTOS

Surgically Repaired Bone

Common Name: Jaguarundi
Scientific Name:  Puma (= Felis) yagouaroundi
Protected Status: U.S. ESA – Endangered; CITES – App.I (depending on subspecies)
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story? This bone is from our specimen reference collection, an essential resource for the laboratory’s species identification work. It came from a zoo animal which later died and was donated to the lab.

Surgically Repaired Bone
Credit: USFWS.

Sampling for Genetic Analysis

Item: Manual pipettor
Laboratory Section: Genetics
What’s the Story?  Analysis of small quantities of biological material requires precise volumetric measurements.  In this example we are extracting DNA from a single tissue sample.

Sampling for Genetic Analysis
Credit: USFWS.

Bear Bile crystals

Item: Bear bile crystals 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.

Bear Bile crystals
Credit: USFWS.

Eagle Talons in Evidence Bag

Common Name:  Bald Eagle
Scientific Name:  Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Protected Status:  Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Eagle Protection Act (recently taken off the Endangered Species list)
Laboratory Section: Pathology
What’s the Story?  Carcasses of eagles and other birds of prey are sent to the Lab for cause-of-death determination.  Common causes of death include electrocution, gunshot, and poisoning.

Eagle Talons in Evidence Bag
Credit: USFWS.

Eagle Bone and 3-D Scan

Common Name: Golden Eagle
Scientific Name: Aquila chrysaetos
Protected Status:  Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Eagle Protection Act
Laboratory Section:  Morphology
What’s the Story? The Laboratory’s laser scanner allows us to make detailed 3-D images of bones for comparison and computer analysis.

Eagle Bone and 3-D Scan
Credit: USFWS.

Rhino Bone

Common Name:  Rhinoceros
Scientific Name:  Family Rhinocerotidae
Protected Status: All Rhinos are protected by international treaty (U.S. ESA or CITES)
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story?  This is the part of the upper leg bone that forms the knee joint.  The smooth areas are where this femur bone articulates/connects to the tibia (shin bone) and the patella (knee cap).

Rhino Bone
Credit: USFWS.

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.

Skulls
Credit: USFWS.

Fingerprint on Reptile Leather Purse

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  Purse
Credit: USFWS.

Protein Analysis

Item: Isoelectric focusing gel of proteins
Laboratory Section:  Genetics
What’s the Story?  Food Labs around the nation use this technique for determining species of origin of food items.  In our Lab this technique has been replaced by DNA analysis.

Protein Analysis
Credit: USFWS.

Computer Forensic Analysis

Item: Removing the hard drive from a seized computer
Laboratory Section: Digital Evidence
What’s the Story? Forensic Analysts uncover illegal activity by examining files and pictures found in computer hard drives.

Computer Forensic 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.

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