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FBI Laboratory heading

Graphic for Trace Evidence Unit

 

The Trace Evidence Unit identifies and compares specific types of trace materials that could be transferred during the commission of a violent crime. These trace materials include human hairs, animal hairs, textile fibers and fabric, ropes, feathers, and wood. The physical contact between a suspect and a victim can result in the transfer of trace materials such as hairs and fibers. The identification and comparison of these materials can often link a suspect to a crime scene or to physical contact with another individual. Torn pieces of fabric can be positively associated to a damaged garment, and broken pieces of wood can be positively fit together. Odontology (forensic dentistry) and physical anthropology (skeletal remains) examinations are also performed. These examinations are conducted to assist in the identification of human remains.

The Unit maintains reference collections of human and animal hairs, natural and man-made textile fibers, fabrics, feathers, woods, and seeds.

For more information about trace evidence examinations or the Trace Evidence Unit,
see the
Anthropology and Odontology
and
Hairs and Fibers sections of the
Handbook of Forensic Services.

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Graphic showing a trace evidence comparison scope


The comparison microscope in trace evidence examinations

Graphic showing cross sections of carpet fibers


Cross section of nylon carpet fibers

Graphic showing a hair root


Microscopic view of a hair root

Graphic showing a feather

Graphic showing a microscopic view of a down feather
Graphic showing the preparation of a slide

A feather and a microscopic view of feather down

Preparation of a slide

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Information revised October 2000