Technical Report

Forensic Science, Medicine, and Pathology

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 225-232

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Identification of historical specimens and wildlife seizures originating from highly degraded sources of kangaroos and other macropods

  • P. B. S. SpencerAffiliated withSchool of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology, Wildlife Forensic Laboratory, Murdoch University Email author 
  • , D. SchmidtAffiliated withInstitute of Zoology and Anthropology, Historical Anthropology and Human Ecology, Georg August-Universität Göttingen
  • , S. HummelAffiliated withInstitute of Zoology and Anthropology, Historical Anthropology and Human Ecology, Georg August-Universität Göttingen

Abstract

Forensic investigations are an important area in the regulation of food mis-description, wildlife seizures and the international trade in wildlife and its products. An early, but important stage in dealing with many biological materials that are submitted for forensic scrutiny is species identification. We describe a method and new primers to amplify three small DNA fragments of the cytochrome b region of the mitochondrial DNA that are suitable for marsupial species identification from degraded sources, such as wildlife seizures. They were designed as consensus sequences from a comparison of 21 marsupial species. The primers also contained sequences intended specifically not to amplify human DNA, thereby reducing the likelihood of amplifying contaminants. Examples of the utility of these primers are given using a range of conditions that may be applied using such an approach, including (1) field-collected sub-fossil bones, (2) an example of museum mis-identification from a specimen collected in 1930 and (3) a skull collected from Bernier Island, in the harsh mid-west of Western Australia.

Keywords

Wildlife forensic Marsupial Bone Teeth Sub-fossil