(Received 29 May 1996; accepted 10 September 1996)
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Stellate trichomes (epidermal, star-shaped plant hairs) recovered from the stored wreckage of an aircraft's engine were used as a basis for arguing that faulty engine design led to the plane's crash near Ruidoso, New Mexico. Light and scanning electron microscope analyses of the trichomes recovered from the engine wreckage and other associated debris, when compared with trichome samples taken from the nightshade (Solanaceae) and cotton (Malvaceae) families about the storage site and elsewhere, provided positive identification of the trichome source. These data, when interpreted in relation to basic ecological and plant life cycle information, confirmed that the trichome presence was the result of post-crash rather than pre-crash events.
Professor of Botany, L. H. Bailey Hortorium, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Professor of Botany, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
Extension Weed Scientist, Cooperative Extension Service, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM
Stock #: JFS14133J