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Indian Peafowl Feathers. Credit: USFWS

Students and Educators

LIBRARY OF MYSTERY PHOTOS

Inside an Elephant’s Toenail

Common Name: Asian Elephant
Scientific Name: Elephas maximus
Protected Status: U.S. ESA – Endangered; CITES—App.I
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story?  Thick keratin walls with paper-thin keratin struts rest upon a pad of cartilage to form the toenail of an elephant.

Inside an Elephant’s Toenail
Credit: USFWS.

Loris Skin

Common Name:  Slow Loris
Scientific Name:  Nycticebus coucang
Protected Status:  CITES – App.II
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story?  Soft fur with a brown dorsal stripe is characteristic of this primitive primate.

Loris Skin
Credit: USFWS.

Lynx Fur

Common Name:  Iberian Lynx
Scientific Name:  Lynx pardinus
Protected Status: U.S. ESA – Endangered; CITES—App.I
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story? Coming soon...

Lynx Fur
Credit: USFWS.

Mountain Zebra Skin

Common Name:  Mountain Zebra
Scientific Name:  Equus zebra
Protected Status: U.S. ESA – Endangered as E.z.zebra and Threatened as E.z.hartmannae; CITES—App.I as E.z.zebra and App.II as E.z.hartmannae
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story?  The hair along the spine of Mountain Zebras grows in the opposite direction between the withers and the croup.

Mountain Zebra Skin
Credit: USFWS.

Sheep Horn Close-Up

Common Name:  Domestic Sheep
Scientific Name:  Ovis aries
Protected Status: None
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story?  Different pigments give horn its variety of colors.

Sheep Horn Close-Up
Credit: USFWS.

Pangolin Leather

Common Name:   Pangolin or Scaly Anteater
Scientific Name:   Manis sp.
Protected Status:  U.S. ESA – Endangered as Manis temmincki; CITES – App. II
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story?  The diamond shaped features in this tanned leather are where the scales were once attached to the skin of the Pangolin.

Pangolin Leather
Credit: USFWS.

Rhino Horn & Skin

Common Name:  White Rhinoceros
Scientific Name:  Ceratotherium simum
Protected Status: U.S. ESA – Endangered as C.s.cottoni;  CITES – App. II as C.s.simum otherwise App.I
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story?  A close-up of where the horn grows out of the skin of a rhino.

Rhino Horn & Skin
Credit: USFWS.

Horn Handle

Common Name:  Cattle
Scientific Name:  Bos taurus
Protected Status: None
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story?  Close up of scratches and underlying keratin fibrils that make up a cow’s horn; the round silver objects are metal inlays into the horn.

Horn Handle
Credit: USFWS.

Oiled Owl

Common Name:  Barn Owl
Scientific Name:  Tyto alba
Protected Status:  Migratory Bird Treaty Act and CITES – App. II
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.  This photograph shows a cleaned Barn Owl feather placed against the oiled mass containing the rest of the carcass.

Oiled Owl
Credit: USFWS.

Tortoiseshell Bowl

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? For centuries, the hard plates that cover the shell of the Hawksbill Sea Turtle have been carved into artifacts for the "tortoiseshell" trade.  While plastic imitations are now widely available, illegal trade in real sea turtle parts continues.

Tortoiseshell Bowl
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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