What is the physiology behind pyramiding?

Testudoresearch

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No problem. I understand the context of the question now.

I think there are a number of serious problems with that study. They say that their intent was to (I quote) "examine the effect of dietary protein level and environmental humidity on the degree of pyramidal growth in the carapaces". They also said that their aim was to provide "the basis for advice to turtle keepers". I certainly think a valid study with those aims could be designed. I do not (for reasons I will explain later) think they succeeded in doing that, however. Sulcata Sandy has pointed out one problem area. You also raise another - the lack of any kind of evidence of bone quality. In other words, we have no idea if MBD was present or not in any of the tortoises in this study.... we don't know if the bone growth resulting from each group was "good" or "bad". There are no X-rays, for example.
 

lilacdragon

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I have read the Weisner and Iben paper again, carefully, several times today, and I agree with Sulcata_Sandy.
from a scientific standpoint, it's very sloppy, poorly written, and not, in fact, very scientific at all.

There is nothing wrong with looking at just two variables at all - if you look at them carefully while taking appropriate measurements; control other variables properly; and have sufficient numbers of replications of each treatment group to get results that are statistically significant.
I'm not convinced that the study succeeded on these counts; for this reason I am concerned to learn that it seems to be used as the sole piece of evidence for a whole "method" of tortoise rearing....
I think other people should try to replicate this experiment using much better recording methods, checking far more parameters to ensure all the vivaria are indeed identical except for the specified variables, and looking much harder at the comparative health of the animals at the end.

Their humidity measurements, in particular, are very crude - they simply stuck a probe into the top corner of each tank. So their only measurements were of the water vapour in the air at the top of the vivarium. Yet they installed halogen heaters just 25cm (10") "above the ground" in these tanks. When switched on, these would have had a huge effect on the humidity just below them - and on the carapaces of the basking animals.

Also, surprisingly few measurements of humidity seem to have been taken. The caption for the relevant table states:
Average of eight weekly measured values of the max and min RH %

So they only measured "max and min" for each group eight times, over five months?
And there were no replicate vivaria, i.e., only one vivarium in each treatment group....

Here are the figures:
Group A "Dry" 24.3 - 57.8% "low humidity, low protein"
Group B "Dry" 27.4 - 55.5% "low humidity, medium protein"
Group C "Intermediate" 30.6 - 74.8% "moderate humidity, medium protein"
Group D "Humid" 47.9 - 99% "high humidity, medium protein"
Group E "Humid" 45 - 99% "high humidity, high protein"

The range is also enormous, and curiously, these are only the mean values for max and min... so if I wanted to play devils advocate, I could suggest that it is possible that the humidity in Groups A and B was more often close to its maximum reading (above 55%) and that the humidity in Groups D and E might have been more often close to its minimum reading (below 48%). If that were true, then Groups A and B would have been more humid, for more of the time, than Groups D and E. :D I'm sure this wasn't the case, but.... :(

Another problem: looking at Table 3, I can see that ALL their tortoises had "humps" :D ... they say in the text that a perfect carapace would have a negative H-index.
It is true that the biggest deviation from a smooth carapace is found in the group kept dry and fed fairly high protein... i.e., growing fast, in drier conditions. But there is very little difference between Groups A and E. Is this a non-significant difference? The authors do not report any statistics comparing groups A and E... I wonder why not?
If there is no significant difference in carapace shape between young animals that grow slowly on a lower-protein diet in what they describe as "low" humidity (24 - 58%), and those that grow far, far faster on a high-protein diet in "high humidity" (Over 45%) then what is the benefit of growing them fast, in wet vivaria? :rolleyes:

People have been debating the cause/ causes of pyramiding for years. But it is only very recently that the full facts about UVB, vitamin D synthesis and metabolic bone disease have been worked out; studies on keratin and how it responds to moisture have been linked to pyramiding; and now, studies have been emerging on the effects of artificial lighting and heating on living cells, at the molecular level. Maybe we will soon have a much fuller picture...

Until a year or so ago, I assumed that all infrared did was "warm" the animal. Now I read that it has all sorts of effects upon cellular chemistry depending on wavelength; and that lamps emit different wavelengths from sunlight; and different wavelengths penetrate to different depths; and some heat water, and others don't...
I would like to hear what people think about an idea that has recently been playing around in my head.

What if the selective warming of the blood vessels between the bony plates (as seen in Andy's thermal images) is simultaneously causing abnormal changes in blood flow, or cell division, or fluid balance at those sites? It does in human skin, here are a couple of papers:

Cho, S., Shin, M. H., Kim, Y. K., Seo, J. E., Lee, Y. M., Park, C. H., & Chung, J. H. (2009, August). Effects of infrared radiation and heat on human skin aging in vivo. In Journal of Investigative Dermatology Symposium Proceedings (Vol. 14, No. 1, pp. 15-19). Nature Publishing Group.
http://www.nature.com/jidsp/journal/v14/n1/pdf/jidsymp20097a.pdf

Schieke, S. M., Schroeder, P., & Krutmann, J. (2003). Cutaneous effects of infrared radiation: from clinical observations to molecular response mechanisms. Photodermatology, photoimmunology & photomedicine, 19(5), 228-234.
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1034/j.1600-0781.2003.00054.x/pdf

Might not such changes cause abnormal growth which contributes to pyramiding, in tortoises?

If so, why would keeping the animal moist be of benefit in reducing pyramiding?
Apart from the effects already described fully by Andy, relating to the increased flexibility of soft, moist keratin, I would like to submit the following idea:
.. if there is a lot of moisture in the keratin of the scutes, then those water molecules, rather than those within the deeper tissues, could be "drawing the heat" from the "non-solar" IR-A, as well as the inevitable IR-B and IR-C, from the heat lamps.... protecting the deeper layers. (A bit like sunscreen vs. UVB?)
A simple experiment would be to do thermal imaging on a basking tortoise under a heat lamp, that has been living in a "moist" environment cf. one from a drier one....

This could be adding to the effects of dietary and calcium/phosphorus imbalances on the shape of the carapace. This paper I found particularly interesting as the author explains clearly how he believes certain specific deformations might occur:
Gerlach, J. (2004). Effects of diet on the systematic utility of the tortoise carapace. African Journal of Herpetology, 53(1), 77-85.
http://islandbiodiversity.com/Afr%20J%20Herpetol%202004%20tortoise%20diet.pdf
What is the consensus on Justin Gerlach's conclusions here?

Frances
 

tortadise

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I will say this;
Of many pages and or thousands of words od scientific defined text and portrayal of chelonian study papers or published a
Papers.

The way I keep all the 28 species of tortoise I have kept over 20 years have been to the utmost single naturalistic manor of all.

I may not have the experiance or title to claim such research or scientific proclaimed status.

It seems to me the thought process of many here begins shallow and too following like. Just because one says you must do "this" to grow your animal smooth or "unpyramided" makes me cringe. The following is what makes us as "keepers" less intelligent than that of "protectors". Which is what I proclaim to be. A protector of these precious beings of earth. To understand these precious beings is to understand the enviroent in which they thrive, live, eat, procreate, endure, and survive. The most simple rule in humanistic behavior in keeping; and or caring for such chelonia of SSP. Is to understand its surroundings and its life its exposed to. Until a keeper or " collector understands such. Then it will all be as if a breathe in the wind.

It shames me to say too many people seek a answer to which should already be in knowledge we seek for our pets, or hobby, or interest. The answers lye benith our sight and within our scent. Too much has slipped from our knowledge. Too much has faded from our aspirations. Too much has faded from our common sense. Look in too nature. Follow its paths. Listen to its rythems. Hear its storms. Feel its warmth and cool air. Follow the guidance it portrays to the world and you shall keep what of its precious creations in pure harmony.

Dont be a follower. Be a student of nature. Dont question its reasons. Just understand them and follow the path it tends to imply.

When we question why from nature, and why must we do such. You must question your intelligence and question your reasons in changing what nature has allowed these animals to thrive in. When we as keepers or collectors try to establish a humanistic approach of what we can so better. That is when WE ARE WRONG in thinking, we have the RIGHT of changing and or forcing a changed enviroent of something ment not to live in that environment, but yet survive as long as it can. Yes I said survive. Any studies on captive collections of chelonia and longetivity in captivity? Hmmm? I think not. Because of our failures as a human egotistical race. we must portray a ceremonis, a accomplishment. Without respect and honor of natures being. We minimalize our standards to keep an animal. We keep for our benefit. But yet we do not understand why we see death. Why we see unnatural growth. Why we see sorrow. Why we see disfunction. Yet the diafunction is of our own misinterpretation of how we care. How we research. How we choose to care for these animals.

The simple choice is at our dispesense. However we follow that which is worded by of uncreditable sources to be fact. A source of which holds no creditability in nature. A source which resides with a personal and human emotional standings.

I choose nature. I choose to follow natures patterns. I choose to follow the environments weather, fauna, and seasonal patterns to care for all the species I chose to become administrator of. Its a simple choice. A choice we must be smart enough to dictate.

What is right for our tortoises. Well what does the natural surroundings and the natural enviroent tell us? Find those answers and you will have a perfectly grown, perfectly healthy, long lived tortoises.


That is all from me for now.


Sorry if their are many typos I am on my phone.
 

Testudoresearch

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Justin's paper I think highlights very well the influence of diet on this matter. You cannot possibly ignore diet. It affects the integrity of the skeleton. It therefore has to have an important role. It would be absurd and irrational to claim otherwise.

The three key dietary factors are:

1) Calcium and Phosphorus: absolute levels and ratio

2) Protein content - intimately involved in determining growth rates

3) Fiber content and digestibility - determines the amount of energy 'extracted' from a given intake over a certain timescale. Also related to growth rates. Most captive diets are far too low in fiber, and far too digestible (Justin did another paper on this, incidentally, comparing wild growth Aldabra growth with those maintained in a zoo. The zoo grown animals demonstrated massively accelerated growth. Steps were taken to reduce the digestibility of the captive diet).

There are of course other factors..other important trace elements....and D3/UVB... but those are the primary areas I would identify as being of absolutely critical importance in chelonian diets in terms of generating good bone growth. Good bone growth is, in turn, of critical importance when looking at keratin stress and bone interactions. This is the root of this entire "pyramiding" problem.

We have now moved from wild theories into understanding what is really happening, and even more importantly, in knowing how to prevent it in a genuinely effective and safe way. Without resorting to "sticking plasters" that merely cover up (or delay) the impacts of getting it wrong.

Frances. Bingo! Yes.

There's even more. I'll add my own little contribution shortly.

Does anyone still think that paper should be taken seriously?

Kelly. I agree with you 100%. If we start to consider nature, and the natural environment or diet "irrelevant", then we really have lost the plot. Completely.

To deal (briefly) with Frances' idea on how lamps may be affecting keratin growth specifically. I suspect something like that is going on. If we look at 'vivarium reared' tortoises we often see quite thick keratin... this could be a protective response to the very low humidity under those lamps... it could be due to some form of 'direct stimulation', or a combination of both. This is something that we need to examine in more detail as further research is undertaken.
 

ulkal

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I rather meant that they only really disclose quantitative data on protein and humidity, without taking other measurements on the "identical conditions". (you explained that well already, lilacdragon)
The Iben and Wiesner paper mention different POV about pyramiding and the possible connection with unhealthy bone-growth, flawed diet and UV. So they seem to be aware of potential other factors. Nevertheless they do nothing to include this in their analysis. Not talking about them not conducting a super-analysis of all factors with maybe limited funds, experience, time etc. But should they not point this out in their conclusion? Something like "ja, okay, the sulcatas kept in humid conditions are less bumpy...this could be because of keratin..humidity (etc.etc.).....there can be no conclusions on the development of bones and organs without a thorough physical examination....we did not examine the impact of lighting/other parts of the diet....further research is needed concerning bone growth....and some suggestions about further research?"

In the humanities, a good research is not only about what you found out but also reflect on what you might have missed, could not include, or how to proceed.


Nevertheless, I still have to see proof that the tortoises started humid are less healthily developed. This is not because I do not understand the reasons of why it is potentially harmful.
Again, it would be really great to have some x-rays of animals raised hot and humid looked at by someone who can make something out of it :D
 

paludarium

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Testudoresearch said:
My second question is more of a practical nature. You are using a very high humidity environment to rear G. pardalis. I understand you have seen these natural habitats... if so, you must surely recognise that the environment you are using is totally different from that in the wild. It is, in general, a semi-arid, scrubby habitat. Finding pockets of high humidity in that habitat is very, very difficult. I have recorded the actual conditions right next to both juvenile and adult wild Leopard tortoises, and typically, RH ranges from 35-60% for most of the year. Very high levels are only seen at certain times of year, during and immediately following rain. For most of the time, RH is in the 40-50% range.

The leopard tortoise inhabits dry semi-deserts with only 100 mm annual rainfall, thorny scrublands, to rainy areas with 1400 mm, from flat plains at sea level to altitudes of nearly 3,000 meters. They seem to be quite versatile in its selection of preferred habitat and are not picky in terms of their habitats except dense forest areas. Leopards tortoises don't live in the jungles, probably due to less food and sunlight under forest canopy, or the high humidity. We have to test it but not just muse on the habitat. Unless we verify that Tom's method is detrimental to the health of the the leopard tortoise, I would not conclude that the closed chamber is not feasible to raise them.

We also have to take climate change into account. For example Sahara, the climate of the Sahara has undergone enormous variations between wet and dry over the last few hundred thousand years. At present (2000 AD), we are in a dry period, but it is expected that the Sahara will become green again in 15000 years (17000 AD). However the fossil evidence indicated that both sulcata and leopard tortoises have been existing on the african continent for more than one millon years! Both species were too slow to escape from the harsh enviroment and they also have experienced the dramatical changes of the climates.

As the ancestors of homo sapiens trekked out of the Africa continent, they never ever predicted that their descendent would evantually have survived and thrived on the Tibetan plateau, in the arctic and in the Amazon jungles. On the contrary, if we investigate the Tibetan and find out human beings who have been living there for thousands of years, we could indeed collect some important facts and information, but they by no means represented the only lifestyle of homo sapiens. What about american lifestyle or living in space?

Just anothter example to show that field researches do not reveal the truth.

Testudoresearch said:
Justin's paper I think highlights very well the influence of diet on this matter.

I would always focus on the materials and methods of a study. Gerlach's study was neither a proscpective study nor a controlled trial, it was only a retroscpective review. The data used in the study were supplied by private tortoise keepers. These comprised 240 British captive bred and reared Testudo and 354 Seychelles captive bred and reared Dipsochelys dussumieri. The diets of some of these tortoises were changed during rearing. All tortoises were 10-15 years old when measured. I would always be very cautious about a review data that referred to private tortoise keepers and consisted of more than 500 tortoises and in a period for more than 10 years. We did not know the real contents of the diets and the raising environments in past 10-15 years of all tortoises. It should have been a huge project.

The best way to prove if Tom is wrong is to conduct the autopsy on his leopard tortoises and find out the real shell structure of the tortoises.

lilacdragon said:
What if the selective warming of the blood vessels between the bony plates (as seen in Andy's thermal images) is simultaneously causing abnormal changes in blood flow, or cell division, or fluid balance at those sites? It does in human skin, here are a couple of papers:

Cho, S., Shin, M. H., Kim, Y. K., Seo, J. E., Lee, Y. M., Park, C. H., & Chung, J. H. (2009, August). Effects of infrared radiation and heat on human skin aging in vivo. In Journal of Investigative Dermatology Symposium Proceedings (Vol. 14, No. 1, pp. 15-19). Nature Publishing Group.
http://www.nature.com/jidsp/journal/v14/n1/pdf/jidsymp20097a.pdf

Schieke, S. M., Schroeder, P., & Krutmann, J. (2003). Cutaneous effects of infrared radiation: from clinical observations to molecular response mechanisms. Photodermatology, photoimmunology & photomedicine, 19(5), 228-234.
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1034/j.1600-0781.2003.00054.x/pdf

Might not such changes cause abnormal growth which contributes to pyramiding, in tortoises?

I would only trust a doctor who tries to treat me using the evidence-based medicine, but never trust a medical doctor who tries to treat me using the data extrapolated from the tortoises. Would you?

Here is an excellent website to learn about bad science: http://www.badscience.net/

Erich
 

Testudoresearch

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paludarium said:
We have to test it but not just muse on the habitat. Unless we verify that Tom's method is detrimental to the health of the the leopard tortoise, I would not conclude that the closed chamber is not feasible to raise them.
Here is an excellent website to learn about bad science: http://www.badscience.net/

Erich

Some of us HAVE "tested it". Been there. Measured it....got the data.

I did earlier ask you some specific questions which you have totally ignored. Please answer them. I am sure if you can find time to attack the methodology of highly respected researchers like Justin Gerlach you can at least find 10 minutes to answer some direct questions that will allow us to evaluate your contributions. The first questions concerned the Weisner & Iben paper:

Simple question.

Do you find the methodology used in that study valid and acceptable?

Second question.

Define:

Low humidity (typical range)
High humidity (typical range)


Third question:

How much time have you personally spent in arid and semi-arid habitats? Where is your data? Photos? Evidence that supports the claims you make? Not second-hand or anecdotal. YOUR data - please?

Please provide some straight answers to some very simple, direct questions that you have been asked.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation.
 

ulkal

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Testudoresearch said:
Some of us HAVE "tested it". Been there. Measured it....got the data.

Could you share those measurements and the specs? Or have you already and I missed something-if so, sorry.
 

Testudoresearch

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paludarium said:
I would only trust a doctor who tries to treat me using the evidence-based medicine, but never trust a medical doctor who tries to treat me using the data extrapolated from the tortoises. Would you?

PS: Are you truly unaware of the fact that almost without a single exception all medicines in use today rely on data "extrapolated" from non-human animals at some stage in their development? Also that medicines veterinarians use to treat tortoises were not developed or tested on tortoises? But on other animals, normally mammals? To dismiss like this all forms of comparative biology and physiology is indeed... bad science.


ulkal said:
Could you share those measurements and the specs? Or have you already and I missed something-if so, sorry.

I will retrieve it from my records. It is quite simply recordings of relative humidity levels that were taken every time a wild leopard tortoise was spotted. These levels were taken right next to the tortoise. They include levels during activity periods, and levels while in "hides" in thorny (often Acacia) vegetation. None of the leopards used 'true' burrows, but rather, shallow pallets or 'scrapes'. As such, the conditions they experience are not too far divergent from general, ambient conditions. There is some small difference due to ground proximity effects (evaporation), etc., and reduced air movement, but the levels are not massively different. Going purely from memory here, but you will find them out and grazing in quite a large range of conditions. From really very dry, to very humid (depends on rainfall). By that, I mean from around 25% RH to around 85%. It can even go over that during and immediately after rain, but then reduces quite rapidly to 'normal' levels. The average level of measurements I recorded was approximately 55%. They are a tortoise associated with "dry, scrubby" habitats in the main. If it is being argued that they experience constant levels of high humidity, then a 'plane ticket to South Africa and a reliable hygrometer will provide all the proof to the contrary that anyone could ever wish for.
 

Dizisdalife

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Testudoresearch said:
paludarium said:
We have to test it but not just muse on the habitat. Unless we verify that Tom's method is detrimental to the health of the the leopard tortoise, I would not conclude that the closed chamber is not feasible to raise them.
Here is an excellent website to learn about bad science: http://www.badscience.net/

Erich

Some of us HAVE "tested it". Been there. Measured it....got the data.

I did earlier ask you some specific questions which you have totally ignored. Please answer them. I am sure if you can find time to attack the methodology of highly respected researchers like Justin Gerlach you can at least find 10 minutes to answer some direct questions that will allow us to evaluate your contributions. The first questions concerned the Weisner & Iben paper:

Simple question.

Do you find the methodology used in that study valid and acceptable?

Second question.

Define:

Low humidity (typical range)
High humidity (typical range)


Third question:

How much time have you personally spent in arid and semi-arid habitats? Where is your data? Photos? Evidence that supports the claims you make? Not second-hand or anecdotal. YOUR data - please?

Please provide some straight answers to some very simple, direct questions that you have been asked.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

Wow. Testudoresearch, I certainly do not have any answers for you on this. Realizing, of course, that it is not I that you have addressed the questions to. I have suspected since reading some of your earlier post that your intent here is to either a)discredit Tom's method of raising baby sulcata or leopard, or b) promote your forthcoming book.

I just want to point out to you that while you are attempting to discredit some ancient research (Weisner & Iben), Tom is readying his closed chambers to produce yet another round of smooth shelled sulcata and leopard babies. He nightly reviews his in-box full of thank you notes from the keepers that have received tortoise that he has started for them. There are many more thank you notes from those that he has taken the time to help directly and indirectly prevent or arrest the pyramiding in their babies. I have only to scan through the many threads in the sulcata section of this forum to find testimony after testimony as to the effectiveness of "Tom's method".

So, tell me again that it is not scientific. It doesn't account for all the proper variables. There is no physiological basis for it (and I do agree that certain attempts to explain why it is working fail in that department). Tell me again that all I need to do is to travel to South Africa and walk about taking random measurements of the RH when I spot a tortoise to understand why this method is wrong. Okay, so the measurements are not so random, statement withdrawn. Tell me again that the long term effects of this method that produces smooth shell specimens with big appetites, will certainly be health deficiencies do to rapid growth.

I have come to the conclusion that there is no conclusion until you, or someone else, performs a study similar to the one by Weisner and Iben. With todays advances in environmental control and measuring techniques it should be a vast improvement to what was done, when, 1988? Pre-internet. I really don't see what the reluctance to doing this study is.

The book that contains this study, one that tracks the the test groups from hatchling to adulthood, is the one I will buy.
 

Testudoresearch

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Dizisdalife said:
Wow. Testudoresearch, I certainly do not have any answers for you on this. Realizing, of course, that it is not I that you have addressed the questions to. I have suspected since reading some of your earlier post that your intent here is to either a)discredit Tom's method of raising baby sulcata or leopard, or b) promote your forthcoming book

I have zero interest in "discrediting" anything for the sake of it. I am rather more interested in weeding out facts from fiction, particularly when systems are being promoted to keepers that are based on deeply flawed research and defective hypothesis. The reason that this matters has been pointed out before. If you do things that are based on poor research and false beliefs as to cause and effect, this is not a very good situation. I think most people would agree with that. It s a bit like in the old days, when fevers were treated by bleeding... and other strange "remedies". People believed it worked... they even had theories to explain why. Unfortunately, they were both wrong. People actually got sicker. Some died. That's the problem with theories based on nothing more than belief.

Dizisdalife said:
I just want to point out to you that while you are attempting to discredit some ancient research (Weisner & Iben)

You mean the very same "ancient research" that is regularly cited on Tortoise Forums (like this one) as alleged "proof" that the sole cause of so-called "pyramiding" is humidity? The very same "ancient research" that proponents of the theory keep referring to again and again? Strangely enough... that's the very same paper.

Since it is the prime source for almost all of these claims, do you not think it is a very good idea to re-examine it and subject it to critical review?

It makes very good sense to me that something that so many cite as "proof" should be looked at very closely indeed.

Dizisdalife said:
So, tell me again that it is not scientific. It doesn't account for all the proper variables. There is no physiological basis for it (and I do agree that certain attempts to explain why it is working fail in that department).

If you check back on what I have consistently said, you will find that my criticism is directed at the explanations being offered to justify the method. You appear to share the same concerns.

Dizisdalife said:
Tell me again that all I need to do is to travel to South Africa and walk about taking random measurements of the RH when I spot a tortoise to understand why this method is wrong. Okay, so the measurements are not so random, statement withdrawn.

No. That is not what I said at all. What I said was perfectly clear.

I said that if it is being claimed that these tortoises are experiencing near constant levels of high humidity in the wild, this is quite simply incorrect and that were you to go there, with a hygrometer, you would quickly be able to prove that for yourself - in person. The claim is factually incorrect. They don't. Simple as that.
 

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Testudoresearch said:
Dizisdalife said:
I just want to point out to you that while you are attempting to discredit some ancient research (Weisner & Iben)

You mean the very same "ancient research" that is regularly cited on Tortoise Forums (like this one) as alleged "proof" that the sole cause of so-called "pyramiding" is humidity? The very same "ancient research" that proponents of the theory keep referring to again and again? Strangely enough... that's the very same paper.

Since it is the prime source for almost all of these claims, do you not think it is a very good idea to re-examine it and subject it to critical review?

From what I've see on this forum, the above article is not "the prime source for claims" proving the relationship between humidity and pyramidding. On this forum, user experience is the prime source.


Dizisdalife said:
I have come to the conclusion that there is no conclusion until you, or someone else, performs a study similar to the one by Weisner and Iben. With todays advances in environmental control and measuring techniques it should be a vast improvement to what was done, when, 1988? Pre-internet. I really don't see what the reluctance to doing this study is.

The book that contains this study, one that tracks the the test groups from hatchling to adulthood, is the one I will buy.

Great idea! So who's volunteering to duplicate the study? Testudoresearch? Dizisdalife? Tom? Any biology grad students on the forum looking for a Thesis Project? Lets get the ball rolling on this!
 

wellington

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I'd like to make a correction here. Tom, and many others, have never said that humidity alone prevents pyramiding. Although, it seems to work for even the tortoises not being fed the best of diets and seems to be a big role in pyramiding, Tom has always promoted good diet, as natural as possible, does not promote over feeding of supplemented food like Mazuri or grocery greens and always promotes proper exercise, sunlight and natural grazing.
I'm also confused that most of your findings seem to be the Testudo species. Although humidity seems to be beneficial to many species, Toms experiments have been with the sulcata and leopard.
There is a lot to still be learned and discovered, that can't be argued. The high humidity works for making leopards and sulcatas and others look like they are suppose too. Tortoises being raised this way, seem to be very healthy too. It's simple, can be accomplished no matter where you live and it seems to be working great. It comes with the years of experiments Tom has done and with the knowledge of their native land of Toms friend Toma. Can it be improved, probably. But keep in mind, the more scientific you want to speak, the less proof you can show, the harder you make it to understand, the more listeners you will loose. Most of us here want to care for and enjoy our pet tortoises. We do want to do the best for them, in the easiest way to understand. So, if you really want to change things, and better the life of tortoises in captive care, then, state your facts, show your proof and then put together an easy to follow and easy to accomplish care sheet.
 

Testudoresearch

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I would respectfully disagree with both statements above.

A perusal of various threads provides multiple examples.

As to the Weisner and Iben paper's importance in this, it is incontrovertible that this is indeed the prime source cited repeatedly as "scientific" support for the theory. This is what Richard Fife said about it:

"In 2003 the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna (Austria) finally quantified the importance of humidity in the environment of hatching tortoises, and also showed in their research that high levels of protein had little affect on pyramiding"

This claim (which, incidentally actually misquotes Weisner and Iben in the first place!) has been repeated again... and again...and again...
 

wellington

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I would love you to post where this has been repeated again and again along with the op of it. If you could please.
Also, not that I am saying they are right or wrong, but what makes their ("In 2003 the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna (Austria) finally quantified the importance of humidity in the environment of hatching tortoises, and also showed in their research that high levels of protein had little affect on pyramiding")
research less accurate then yours?
Also, not sure if I may have missed it or not, or if I have it incorrect or not. However, did you say, you are now in the process or have been in the process of raising some tortoises (not sure of species)in a way that in your opinion or within your research is different from the past and even present and more to a natural habitat. What are these specifics and can you give any input on any results yet.
 

Testudoresearch

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mctlong said:
Great idea! So who's volunteering to duplicate the study? Testudoresearch? Dizisdalife? Tom? Any biology grad students on the forum looking for a Thesis Project? Lets get the ball rolling on this!

There has already been a much better controlled study. Worth a read.

It is important to highlight (yet again) another common misconception repeated in the article linked:

"After
more research I came across a book
that mentioned pyramiding of tortoise
shells. The book stated pyramiding was
caused by high levels of protein in the
diet, such as feeding large quantities of
dog food"


The book in question was one of mine.

Except... it does not say that or claim that. This is yet another case of people thinking something was said, when it never was. What it actually said was that:

a) High protein intakes promote high growth rates
b) Most high protein diets are calcium deficient and can inhibit calcium utilization
c) High growth rate animals are highly susceptible to a variety of developmental disorders affecting bone quality (MBD, for example) and that such disorders can and do result in various forms of carapace deformity
d) High protein diets are associated with high rates of renal failure and with gout
e) High protein diets can be associated with excess keratin production.

Protein was at no time stated to be the "cause of pyramiding". It was stated to be (and still is) one of the contributory factors, for the simple reason that it promotes high growth rates, and tortoises in high growth phases are most susceptible to all forms of orthopedic disorders, resulting from absolute or relative deficiencies.
 

wellington

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I am totally confused now. That article/study shows high humidity played a big role in the test tortoises not pyramiding, while the dry tortoises did pyramid. Isn't this going against what you are trying to say and discredit Tom for saying? Isn't this the total opposite from what you are trying to promote? I stopped reading this thread because it was getting confusing. Now with your latest post and article reference, it still is confusing to me. I will bow out again, and will keep promoting Toms way as I have been. He has the proof to back up his work:)
 

Testudoresearch

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wellington said:
I would love you to post where this has been repeated again and again along with the op of it. If you could please.

Can you be somewhat clearer on what you are asking for? Claims that protein has no effect? Claims that the cause is entirely humidity related? Or claims that the Weisner and Iben paper is credible and of importance?

wellington said:
Also, not that I am saying they are right or wrong, but what makes their ("In 2003 the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna (Austria) finally quantified the importance of humidity in the environment of hatching tortoises, and also showed in their research that high levels of protein had little affect on pyramiding")
research less accurate then yours?

Full details following. Judge for yourself.

wellington said:
Also, not sure if I may have missed it or not, or if I have it incorrect or not. However, did you say, you are now in the process or have been in the process of raising some tortoises (not sure of species)in a way that in your opinion or within your research is different from the past and even present and more to a natural habitat. What are these specifics and can you give any input on any results yet.

Please refer back to earlier posts in this thread. Full details already provided.
 

wellington

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Thanks, I thought you had already posted, details in your housing, just wasn't sure. I didn't want to search incase you hadn't. Thanks.
The proof, actually threads/post, I am asking for is that high protein does not play a role in pyramiding. Maybe I miss understood, I took it that it is said over and over again on this forum.
 

lilacdragon

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Tom, Paludarium and Andy, I'd really value your thoughts on this. And others too, of course...

Tom wrote:
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/thread-83263-post-789689.html#pid789689
Using "un-natural" captive techniques to counter "un-natural" captive shortcomings makes perfect sense, AND it works very well if done correctly.

1. I'm sure most people, including all protagonists in this thread, would agree with me that tortoises are extremely highly evolved to thrive best in the precise microhabitat they evolved in. No-one is denying this fact. Therefore if we could provide that precise microhabitat, we would be offering the ideal environment for our tortoises. And conducting field research is the only way to discover what that microhabitat is.
(Comparing modern tortoise husbandry with humans living an "american lifestyle or living in space" seems unwise, by the way, because although humans do survive in both situations, the general health of people living Western lifestyles is suffering massive declines in the last few decades, with a pandemic of vitamin D deficiency, colossal increases in obesity, diabetes, auto-immune diseases, autism...)

2. However, we acknowledge that we cannot provide that precise microhabitat. Therefore we should either cease keeping them in captivity, or find ways of overcoming these shortcomings. We have already accepted many very artificial aids, without the furore associated with this "humidity" thing. How many people go nuts when someone recommends adding vitamin/mineral supplements to food? Hardly anyone. In fact it is almost universally recommended. Yet oral vitamin D3 is not part of the normal diet of any herbivorous animal.
Tom appears to have discovered something extremely interesting: that damp keratin somehow helps prevent pyramiding in his young tortoises.
And here's something else that's also interesting. It doesn't even have to be associated with high humidity.
In May 2010, Tom wrote: http://www.tortoiseforum.org/thread-15137-post-135421.html#pid135421
Interesting that you should say this. I had a conversation with Richard Fife a couple of weeks ago and one of the things he told me about, was spraying the carapace. He felt like that alone would prevent pyramiding, but was not ready to go public with it, until he had done some more research on it.

3. If we consider "wetting the carapace" as just like giving powdered vitamin D3 on food, then there is nothing terrible in investigating (a) whether it works and (b) whether it is safe. And then deciding whether the benefits outweigh the risks.
With regard to vitamin D supplementation - (a) people seem to have found out that it works for many species, and can prevent MBD; but (b) it is not completely safe, because humans are then controlling the dose; no-one actually knows the appropriate dose; both over-dosing and under-dosing are harmful; and the animal's metabolism isn't used to handling its D3 levels via the gut, and so natural internal controls on blood concentrations don't work properly. Nevertheless many people have decided that the benefits outweigh the risks, and so use VitD3 supplements with their animals ..and take the supplements themselves, too.
So what about wetting the carapace/ increased humidity?
(a) Does it work? Tom, please get your evidence into some serious herp publications. Charts, tables, photos, measurements. Everyone wants to see this data!
(b) Is it safe? Paludarium wrote: http://www.tortoiseforum.org/thread-83263-post-793439.html#pid793439
The best way to prove if Tom is wrong is to conduct the autopsy on his leopard tortoises and find out the real shell structure of the tortoises.
Well, "autopsy" sounds a bit drastic.. but I'd sure like to see some investigations as to all aspects of health - X-Rays, bone density, blood panels, etc. and evidence of no harm from increased damp on respiratory function, skin health etc - This would reassure a lot of people and give credence to claims that this method is safe. And if any die from accidental injury for example, yes autopsy... and histology of kidney, liver etc as well as carapace and bone.
Only then will we be able to ascertain whether the benefits of this admittedly abnormal way of tortoise-rearing outweigh the risks.
And one big risk - as Andy has pointed out -is most definitely that it could mask an underlying serious bone pathology, namely Metabolic Bone Disorder.
I am deeply concerned about this possibility because vitamin D deficiency is still a number one problem, and we still haven't perfected UVB lighting, and we still don't have any universally accepted ideal of what constitutes a healthy heating/lighting/UVB environment....
PLEASE NOTE, I am NOT saying that anyone's torts reared using the humid method actually have "disguised MBD". What I'm saying is that the humid method might prevent it from being diagnosed.... so some torts might have it, but it might go un-recognised until very late...

I would also like to say something about this:
Why does wetting the carapace help prevent pyramiding?

OK we've gone over and over the idea that soft keratin is malleable. But when I posted those references about the effects of non-water-filtered IR-A on human skin, I was trying to add a new hypothesis for consideration....

Paludarium wrote: http://www.tortoiseforum.org/thread-83263-post-793439.html#pid793439

lilacdragon Wrote: What if the selective warming of the blood vessels between the bony plates (as seen in Andy's thermal images) is simultaneously causing abnormal changes in blood flow, or cell division, or fluid balance at those sites? It does in human skin, here are a couple of papers:
....Effects of infrared radiation and heat on human skin aging in vivo. ....Cutaneous effects of infrared radiation: from clinical observations to molecular response mechanisms.
Might not such changes cause abnormal growth which contributes to pyramiding, in tortoises?


I would only trust a doctor who tries to treat me using the evidence-based medicine, but never trust a medical doctor who tries to treat me using the data extrapolated from the tortoises. Would you?

I was not even considering "medicine" or "treatment". All I was suggesting was that these particular wavelengths of IR-A, found under basking lamps but not in natural sunlight, have been shown to cause very distinct photobiological changes to living cells, including "angiogenesis" -increased blood vessel formation - and release of "cytokines" - inflammatory proteins. There's no reason to think that tortoise cells are substantially different from human cells when it comes to basic responses to irradiation. So could the sensitive, rapidly-multiplying cells along the edges of the scutes be affected by this abnormal IR-A?
To my knowledge, no-one has ever suspected this could happen, before. I think it warrants investigation...

We are all looking for answers as to why indoor-reared tortoises are more susceptible to pyramiding than outdoor-reared ones. If those wavelengths of IR-A are adding to the harm, but wetting the carapace/ soaking the keratin layer prevents them from reaching the sensitive growth plates underneath, then this could be one more reason why Tom's method works.

As for the wretched Weisner and Iben paper: it was a poor study, but I'm sure it became popular because it appeared to offer a "scientific explanation" for an observed effect - and people wanted an explanation.
The effect does not go away because the study is discredited. It does not go away if Weisner and Iben's tortoises weren't even good examples of the effect, and were all showing signs of pyramiding!

:tort: Happy New Year, everyone :) :tort: :tort: :tort:
Frances
 

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