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Forensics Laboratory

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Indian Peafowl Feathers. Credit: USFWS

Students and Educators

LIBRARY OF MYSTERY PHOTOS

X-Ray

Common Name: Wolf    
Scientific Name: Canis lupus
Protected Status: varies by locality
Laboratory Section:  Pathology
What’s the Story?  Carcasses of protected animals that arrive at the Lab are examined to determine cause of death.  X-rays are routinely used for diagnostic purposes.

X-Ray
Credit: USFWS.

Cross-Section of African Elephant Tail Hair

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: Morphology
What’s the Story?  Thin cross-sections of thick elephant tail hairs reveal patterns and aggregations of pigment granules that are diagnostic to the species.

Cross-Section of African Elephant Tail Hair
Credit: USFWS.

Evidence Tag

Laboratory Section:  All
What’s the Story? The Laboratory maintains exact records of the location of evidence items at all times through evidence tags with computer-scanned bar codes.

Evidence Tag
Credit: USFWS.

Forensics Garden

What’s the Story?  The Labs landscape is a unique blend of features that incorporates Homeland Security protection guidance, educational components that demonstrate the principles of forensics and is pleasing to the community.  See full article about our Forensics Garden.

Forensics Garden
Credit: USFWS.

Cross-Section of African Elephant Tail Hair

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: Morphology
What’s the Story? African elephant tail hair in cross-section using polarizing microscopy with first order red filter.

Cross-Section of African Elephant  Tail Hair
Credit: USFWS.

Surgical Instruments

Laboratory Section: Pathology
What’s the Story?  Laboratory pathologists determine the cause of death for animal carcasses submitted as evidence.  For example, in an investigation of a dead wolf, it is essential to know if the animal was shot or hit by a car.  Surgical instruments are important tools of the trade for pathologists.

Surgical Instruments
Credit: USFWS.

Cross-Section of cow hair

Common Name:  Cattle
Scientific Name:  Bos taurus
Protected Status: None
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story?  Cow hair in cross-section using polarizing microscopy with first order red filter.

Cross-Section of cow hair
Credit: USFWS.

Close-up of Oiled Bird Remains

Common Name:   to be determined by analysis
Scientific Name:   to be determined by analysis
Protected Status:  varies; all native North American birds protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story? Every year, hundreds of thousands of birds die after becoming trapped in oil and other waste fluids associated with oil production. Analysts at the laboratory identify these oil-covered bird remains to determine if protected species are being killed.

Close-up of Oiled Bird Remains
Credit: USFWS.

Grizzly Bear in Field Necropsy

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:  Pathology
What’s the Story?  Coming soon...

Grizzly Bear in Field Necropsy
Credit: USFWS.

Python Skin

Common Name: Ball Python
Scientific Name: Python regius
Protected Status: CITES App. II
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story? Python skin is commonly tanned and used in the leather garment industry.  Proper identification of such items is important to wildlife law enforcement efforts.  Ball pythons get their name from their defensive behavior of curling into a ball.

Python Skin
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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