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

Oiled Cardinal

Common Name:  Northern Cardinal
Scientific Name:  Cardinalis cardinalis
Protected Status:  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.

Oiled Cardinal
Credit: USFWS.

Pile of Dried Frogs

Common Name: Frog
Scientific Name: Order Anura
Protected Status: Most Asian frogs are not protected.  For many frog species, it is not known if their exploitation for the medicinal trade is sustainable.
Laboratory Section: Morphology
What’s the Story? These dried frogs from Asia were imported into the United States for use as traditional medicine. Even amphibians only recently described by science are sometimes harvested in large numbers.  International demands for such items greatly reduces local wildlife populations.

Pile of Dried Frogs
Credit: USFWS.

Coyote Bullet X-Ray

Common Name:  Coyote
Scientific Name:  Canis latrans
Protected Status: None
Laboratory Section: Pathology
What’s the Story?  The radio opaque “snow storm” pattern seen in this x-ray is characteristic of a high powered rifle.  The Pathologist uses the x-ray findings to help in reaching a cause of death diagnosis.

Coyote Bullet X-Ray
Credit: USFWS.

Ducks Lead Shot X-Ray

Common Name: Duck
Scientific Name:  Anas sp.
Protected Status: Migratory Bird Treaty Act
Laboratory Section: Pathology
What’s the Story?  The use of lead shot is federally prohibited. An x-ray of a duck carcass can show diagnostic details that indicate that the shot may be illegal lead shot, or with some legal shot (such as bismuth, tungsten, etc.).  Shot composition is verified by the Criminalistics team.

Ducks Lead Shot X-Ray
Credit: USFWS.

Wolf Skeletal Remains

Common Name:  Gray wolf
Scientific Name:  Canis lupus
Protected Status: varies by locality
Laboratory Section: Pathology
What’s the Story?  At times the only remains found at a crime scene is the skeletonized remains of the victim. In these situations, x-ray analysis allows the Pathologist to study the remains in search of lead particles.  Confirmation of lead is done by the Criminalistics team.

Wolf Skeletal Remains
Credit: USFWS.

Scale

Laboratory Section: Pathology
What’s the Story?  A scale is used in pathology for documenting carcass weight of birds.

Scale
Credit: USFWS.

Freezer Temperature Control

Laboratory Section: Evidence Unit
What’s the Story?  An evidence item that is vulnerable to decomposition is kept in specially guarded freezers. In this case the display indicates that this freezer is kept at -44 degrees Fahrenheit.

Freezer Temperature Control
Credit: USFWS.

Pathology light source

Laboratory Section: Pathology
What’s the Story?  When conducting a necropsy it is essential to have a good source of indirect, color calibrated lights.

Pathology light source
Credit: USFWS.

X-Ray Machine

Laboratory Section: Pathology
What’s the Story?  All necropsies are examined by x-ray to visualize radio opaque objects (such as bullets) and to document bone fractures caused by trauma or gunshot.

X-Ray Machine
Credit: USFWS.

Biometric Fingerprint Reader

Laboratory Section: throughout the Lab
What’s the Story?  The Lab's security is controlled by doors which are activated by fingerprints. These biometric readers are programmed so that staff is cleared to access the area in which they work.

Biometric Fingerprint Reader
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