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  #41 (permalink)  
Old 02-09-2008, 04:16 PM
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I would do the same.

I only offer the photos as anecdotal evidence to support a point... never have I said that it was proof positive.

This is also why I've never attempted to write a paper on the topic although I've thought about it. There are too many variables to monitor... let alone control. I think some of those variables are impossible to quantify.


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Originally Posted by GlasgowGecko View Post
I understand that the photographic results of long term care schedules would be interesting, but in a scientific context would be meaningless unless you had controlled for ALL other factors that can contribute. When reviewing journals, I would immediately reject any paper, regardless of how compelling the argument if proper controls were not taken.

Andy
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  #42 (permalink)  
Old 02-09-2008, 04:26 PM
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With respect, Andy (and George) you are rather missing the point and seem to be assuming that no such trials or controls have been carried out. They have. My request here is nothing to do with that. It relates very specifically to keeper's and breeder's personal experiences of this question and a search for CLARITY in the claims that have been made by others.

One example. I note Ed repeatedly states that he believes "hydration" is very critical. Hydration is of course not the same as environmental humidity. Is it the case that a "well hydrated" tortoise is therefore fine in even low environmental humidities? It is completely unclear from what I have seen so far. That is why I am asking these questions. To resolve such points.

Andy Highfield
www.tortoisetrust.org

I understand this fully, but my point is still valid. How would you compare two such cases (from different keepers) that for example use different diets, and increased hydration?

My point becomes, it is impossible to compare the cases, because more than one factor is changed. Therefore it is impossible to attribute the results to one cause, rendering any conclusions, speculation, and making there use limited at best.

This also means no resolution to the problem can be accurately achieved, which is obviously the overall goal.

Andy
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  #43 (permalink)  
Old 02-09-2008, 04:36 PM
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Yup... hydration is not the same as humidity. Humidity is an added factor. Humidity will aid in maintaining good hydration. Hope that makes it a little clearer.

While a humid hide is a benefit... hydration is still one of the most important factors. Again... it's a common sense kind of thing.

Again... it's easy to dismiss a point but it's not very helpful without providing a counter point.

What I assume you are trying to say in a very round about way is that it is an extremely complex issue and there is no clear cut single answer... I totally agree... but... if I was to have a new keeper focus on any one single point in the issue of pyramiding I would suggest... Heat... first... hydration... second... and... nutrition... third... in that order.


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Originally Posted by Tortoise Trust View Post
With respect, Andy (and George) you are rather missing the point and seem to be assuming that no such trials or controls have been carried out. They have. My request here is nothing to do with that. It relates very specifically to keeper's and breeder's personal experiences of this question and a search for CLARITY in the claims that have been made by others.

One example. I note Ed repeatedly states that he believes "hydration" is very critical. Hydration is of course not the same as environmental humidity. Is it the case that a "well hydrated" tortoise is therefore fine in even low environmental humidities? It is completely unclear from what I have seen so far. That is why I am asking these questions. To resolve such points.

Andy Highfield
www.tortoisetrust.org
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  #44 (permalink)  
Old 02-09-2008, 05:12 PM
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Originally Posted by GlasgowGecko View Post
I understand this fully, but my point is still valid. How would you compare two such cases (from different keepers) that for example use different diets, and increased hydration?

Andy
I am not seeking to compare any such cases. I am simply asking for people who use this method, and believe in it, and advocate it to others, to document exactly what what they have done and to demonstrate the results achieved in an objective manner so we can all see for ourselves.

It is a simple enough request.

Andy Highfield
www.tortoisetrust.org
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  #45 (permalink)  
Old 02-09-2008, 05:27 PM
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Can I ask for your documentation... research... proof... anecdotal evidence... to support your position on the causes of pyramiding?

What would you accept as an objective manner?

The problem with giving such data is that it will not be looked at in an objective manner. You have a point and all others are wrong... at least that's the impression I get.

If you were objective... this fencing match would not be taking place.

You might be right in that protein or overfeeding is a primary cause... I haven't seen you present ANY evidence to support your position.

It is my opinion that protein/overfeeding is a very minor factor... isn't that what this is all about?

I've provided anecdotal evidence to support my position. I've yet to see any evidence to support your position.

Sorry for being forward but I figured I'd just cut to the chase.

As to what they have done... simple... maintain a high enough temperature so the poor critter can maintain proper metabolic function and... provide enough water so... it can maintain proper metabolic function...

My photos speak for what I've done... I don't know about others.

I was going to say... what is the point of this discussion... I just realized... to discredit the OP.

Ok... back on track... bring it on...

I'd still like my questions addressed... if you please.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tortoise Trust View Post
I am not seeking to compare any such cases. I am simply asking for people who use this method, and believe in it, and advocate it to others, to document exactly what what they have done and to demonstrate the results achieved in an objective manner so we can all see for ourselves.

It is a simple enough request.

Andy Highfield
www.tortoisetrust.org
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  #46 (permalink)  
Old 02-09-2008, 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by -EJ View Post
Another point of debate... pyramiding is not a desease. I can confidently say that. It's something that does occur in the wild and it does not effect the health of the tortoise. It can, if extreme ennough, impact the health of the tortoise but the condition, itself, has no physiological impactact on a tortoise.

Stated differently... a diseased tortoise can be pyramided but a pyramided tortoise is not necessarily diseased.
I can tell you that I have studied over 300 X-rays of so-called "pyramided" tortoises, and performed sections on 48 specimens of several species post-mortem (various causes of death - none were euthanised for this purpose), and 100% of these demonstrated clear evidence of concurrent metabolic bone disease where there was anything beyond very slight, very marginal "pyramiding". It was universally present in all of them where the "pyramiding" was advanced. This was characterised by:
  • Poor bone density
  • Fibrous lesions
  • Spinal deformity (to varying degrees).
I have actually never seen a "pyramided" tortoise that did not have a concurrent fibrous osteodystrophy present. Please note: This specifically excludes certain species where this type of development is genetic in origin, i.e., Pssamobates, and certain geographical populations of G. elegans, etc. Despite the "pyramid" or tent-like structure of the vertebral scutes on these, the bone density is entirely normal and no lesions are present. These lesions are very dramatic in advanced cases. The bone is literally riddled with holes and is extemely weak.

I would classify osteological lesions as very much a disease. They are not 'normal', are not seen in healthy wild tortoises, and they have long term negative impacts on survivability and breeding capability.

The only time I have personally seen anything like this in the wild was a few years ago in Morocco, where the tortoises living on the periphery of a field of Green beans (which apparently constituted most of their diet) did indeed show this deformity. I have never seen it anywhere else or even seen any credible reports of it.

Andy Highfield
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  #47 (permalink)  
Old 02-09-2008, 05:47 PM
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So... you're saying that a pyramided tortoise is an unhealthy tortoise?

I suspect that your study population is definately biased considering that you are a rehabber... can I call you that without being insulting?... You take in what people either don't want or cannot deal with.

As said time and again... a tortoise with MBD is usually pyramided... A pyramided tortoise does not always have MBD. You actually pointed this out with certain wild populations.

Well... this is another one of those projects... I willl... one day... post a cross section of a pyramided tortoise with no MBD evident in the shell. Sorry I can't do it now.

For those that do pyramid in the wild... how do you know it is genetic and not environmental... a little proof... maybe? Why is it that some Leopards pyramid in the wild and others do not?

As to the 'Green Bean Tortoises'... how long did you observe them both on a daily basis and overall?

Have you ever gone back to observe the population?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tortoise Trust View Post
I can tell you that I have studied over 300 X-rays of so-called "pyramided" tortoises, and performed sections on 48 specimens of several species post-mortem (various causes of death - none were euthanised for this purpose), and 100% of these demonstrated clear evidence of concurrent metabolic bone disease where there was anything beyond very slight, very marginal "pyramiding". It was universally present in all of them where the "pyramiding" was advanced. This was characterised by:
  • Poor bone density
  • Fibrous lesions
  • Spinal deformity (to varying degrees).
I have actually never seen a "pyramided" tortoise that did not have a concurrent fibrous osteodystrophy present. Please note: This specifically excludes certain species where this type of development is genetic in origin, i.e., Pssamobates, and certain geographical populations of G. elegans, etc. Despite the "pyramid" or tent-like structure of the vertebral scutes on these, the bone density is entirely normal and no lesions are present. These lesions are very dramatic in advanced cases. The bone is literally riddled with holes and is extemely weak.

I would classify osteological lesions as very much a disease. They are not 'normal', are not seen in healthy wild tortoises, and they have long term negative impacts on survivability and breeding capability.

The only time I have personally seen anything like this in the wild was a few years ago in Morocco, where the tortoises living on the periphery of a field of Green beans (which apparently constituted most of their diet) did indeed show this deformity. I have never seen it anywhere else or even seen any credible reports of it.

Andy Highfield
www.tortoisetrust.org
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  #48 (permalink)  
Old 02-09-2008, 05:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Tortoise Trust View Post
I am not seeking to compare any such cases. I am simply asking for people who use this method, and believe in it, and advocate it to others, to document exactly what what they have done and to demonstrate the results achieved in an objective manner so we can all see for ourselves.

It is a simple enough request.

Andy Highfield
www.tortoisetrust.org
I understand, and I'm not being deliberately confrontational, but this will not be evidence of either heat, diet, or hydration causing or preventing pyramiding. It can and will only be a regime which either does or doesn't result in pyramiding. You would not be able to tell which factor contributes, or as is probably more realistic, which factors contribute and to what extent.

Kind regards,
Andy
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  #49 (permalink)  
Old 02-09-2008, 06:14 PM
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[quote=-EJ;2380899]
I was going to say... what is the point of this discussion... I just realized... to discredit the OP.
quote]

Absolutely not. The object was to get some answers to points you have raised that I felt needed clarifying. I am sorry if you feel being pressed to provide some form of support for what you say is tantamount to being "discredited". It is not.

I am certainly happy to provide you with full details of my arguments and the materials I rely upon to support them. I am afraid I cannot provide full details of the most recent work as that is currently unpublished, however, it will be available in due course. Here is what I said in 1999/2000:

"One interesting aspect of the environment-development interface that requires further investigation is the possible impact of localized humidity upon rapidly growing keratin. Keratin is a fibrous protein formed of coiled polypeptide chains that are combined into supercoils of several polypeptides linked by disulphide bonds between adjacent cysteine amino acids. Aggregates of these supercoils form microfibrils which are embedded in a protein matrix. The resulting structure is strong, but relatively elastic. Keratin is also hygroscopic - to the extent that for many years human hair was employed in laboratory humidity measuring equipment as the sensor mechanism. Hair comprises dead keratin cells, while the keratin of a tortoise’s shell is living, however, there is undoubtedly a differential in the fluid content between inner and outer surfaces (even though the thickness involved is only a fraction of a millimeter) especially in hot, arid environments). It has been noted that carapace ‘pyramiding’ tends to be worse when animals are reared at high growth rates in very dry as opposed to the same rate of growth in more humid environments. It is interesting to speculate upon the possible mechanisms for this. The most probable cause is that the fluid content differential in very dry environments creates physical stresses within the keratin layer that have the effect of exerting influence upon the rapidly developing (and relatively plastic) underlying bone.


Feeding, growth and environment are inseparable in ectotherms. It is impossible to consider one factor without reference to others. In this sense, it is quite true to state that environment plays a critical role in growth and development. It does so, however, because it influences food intake, feeding behavior, and the way in which the consumed foods are processed. Bone structure and development is not directly affected by temperature, water or ambient humidity, and it is quite erroneous to assume any such direct link, save for the possible influence of humidity upon the keratin outer layer of a turtle’s shell as discussed above.


Environment and nutrition in herbivorous ectotherms are also essentially inseparable. The net consequence is that elevated temperatures result in high rates of feeding (up to a certain point, at which feeding decreases and the animal seeks shelter or enters estivation), higher rates of digestive coefficient, and faster gut transit times. These factors in turn result in higher rates of overall growth and enhanced demand for calcium and other bone-building trace elements. Should these not be available, deficiencies will manifest in the form of fibrous osteodystrophy and visible carapace deformity. Where they are provided at an adequate level to keep pace with the high rates of growth being attained, smooth carapace growth can be successfully achieved, though not without some cost to the renal system as a result of the higher levels of serum urea generated."


I have seen no evidence whatsoever that contradicts any of this, incidentally, but more recent work has shed a lot of light on some (not all) of the mechanisms involved. This will be published in due course. It is worth noting that the keratin of tortoise and turtle scutes is beta-keratin, and that there are very many physical and biochemical similarities with the material of horn and hoof.


It is very sad that yet again, personal insults have to enter our otherwise robust and interesting debates.



Sadly,
Andy Highfield
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  #50 (permalink)  
Old 02-09-2008, 06:24 PM
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Originally Posted by GlasgowGecko View Post
I understand, and I'm not being deliberately confrontational, but this will not be evidence of either heat, diet, or hydration causing or preventing pyramiding. It can and will only be a regime which either does or doesn't result in pyramiding. You would not be able to tell which factor contributes, or as is probably more realistic, which factors contribute and to what extent.

Kind regards,
Andy
Well, Andy, I simply thought it entirely reasonable to ask people who are strongly advocating keeper adopt a certain course of action (that may be beneficial, but equally, may be very damaging) to at the very least be prepared to answer some questions on it, and to present some photos or x-rays that go to support what they say.

I have certainly done that, repeatedly. The material is in print in various books, is referenced in multiple veterinary texts (for example, MaCarthur, Wilkinson & Meyer "Medicine & Surgery of Tortoises & Turtles"), and can be found in quite a number of journals, including those from the BHS, IHS, ASRA and the Chelonian Research Foundation.

I do not feel it entirely unreasonable to request answers to what are really very simple questions of great importance and interest to many keepers. You are clearly very interested in this topic yourself. Have you experimented with the impacts of environment upon bone developement in chelonia? What results have you observed?

Best wishes,
Andy Highfield
www.tortoisetrust.org

Last edited by Tortoise Trust; 02-09-2008 at 06:28 PM..
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