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Indian Peafowl Feathers. Credit: USFWS

Students and Educators

LIBRARY OF MYSTERY PHOTOS

Lizard Skin

Common Name: Caiman Lizard
Scientific Name: Dracaena species
Protected Status: CITES App. II
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story? Caiman lizard skin is commonly tanned and used in the leather garment industry.  Proper identification of this South American lizard is important to wildlife law enforcement efforts.

Lizard Skin
Credit: USFWS.

Cobra Skin

Common Name: Asiatic Cobra
Scientific Name: Naja species
Protected Status: CITES App. II
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story? Cobra skin is commonly tanned and used in the leather garment industry.  Proper identification of cobra leather is important to wildlife law enforcement efforts.

Cobra Skin
Credit: USFWS.

Crocodile Skin Parasite Trail

Common Name: Nematode parasite
Scientific Name: Nematoda
Protected Status:  All crocodilians are protected by international treaty (CITES)
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story? Parasite trails are one of many characters useful for identifying real versus fake crocodilian leather.

Crocodile  Skin Parasite Trail
Credit: USFWS.

Lizard Scales

Common Name: Monitor Lizard
Scientific Name: Varanus species
Protected Status: U.S. ESA – Endangered (Varanus griseus, V. bengalensis, V. komodoensis, V. flavescens); CITES I or II depending on species
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story?  Monitor lizard skin is commonly tanned and used in the leather garment industry.  Proper identification of monitor lizard leather is important to wildlife law enforcement efforts.

Lizard Scales
Credit: USFWS.

Viper Skin

Common Name: Russell’s Viper
Scientific Name: Daboia russelii
Protected Status: CITES App. III (India)
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story? Russell’s viper skin is commonly tanned and used in the leather garment industry.  Proper identification of Russell’s viper leather is important to wildlife law enforcement efforts. The circular and drop-shaped markings on the back of this snake are very distinct.  This is one of the most dangerous snakes in southern Asia.

Viper Skin
Credit: USFWS.

Sea Turtle Leather

Common Name: Sea Turtle
Scientific Name: Family Cheloniidae
Protected Status: U.S. ESA – Threatened or Endangered depending on species; CITES App. I
Laboratory Section: Morphology.
What’s the Story?  Sea turtle skin (from their throat, neck and flippers) was once commonly tanned and used in the leather garment industry.  Commercial trade in sea turtle parts is now prohibited, though illegal trade still occurs.  Proper identification of sea turtle leather is important to wildlife law enforcement efforts.

Sea Turtle Leather
Credit: USFWS.

Medicinal Lizards

Common Name: Tokay Gecko
Scientific Name: Gekko gecko
Protected Status:  Not protected by U.S. law or international treaty.
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story?  The Tokay gecko is commonly used in Asian medicine to treat a variety of illnesses.  It is unknown if the species can withstand this intense exploitation.

Medicinal Lizards
Credit: USFWS.

Hornbill Skull

Common Name:  Wreathed Hornbill
Scientific Name:  Aceros undulatus
Protected Status:  CITES – App. II
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story?  This is a close-up of the beak of a Wreathed Hornbill.  The strange-looking skulls of these birds are sometimes sold – illegally – as decorative curiosities.

Hornbill Skull
Credit: USFWS.

Amazon Mask

Common Name:  Scarlet Macaw and Blue-and-yellow Macaw
Scientific Name:  Ara macaoand Ara ararauna
Protected Status:  CITES – App. I (Scarlet Macaw); CITES – App. II (Blue-and-yellow Macaw)
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story?  This close-up of a tribal mask from the Amazon shows the feathers of Scarlet Macaw and Blue-and-yellow Macaw.  While it is legal for native tribes to make and use these culturally important objects, their international trade is strictly regulated.

Amazon Mask
Credit: USFWS.

Anhinga Feathers

Common Name:  Anhinga
Scientific Name:  Anhinga anhinga
Protected Status:  Migratory Bird Treaty Act
Laboratory Section:  Morphology
What’s the Story?  Anhingas are waterbirds found in the southeastern U.S.  Their feathers are sometimes used in decorative items, a use prohibited by federal law.

Anhinga Feathers
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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