Hybrid Tarantulas

poisoned

Arachnodemon
Joined
Apr 17, 2012
Messages
690
The other thing is that "official" researchers are trained to execute controlled studies. It is such a difficult thing to do- to ensure that the results you are getting are really what you think they are, that we not only do it as many independent ways as we can BUT we also have countless examples of MAJOR oversights that our training did not teach us to think about, we were too excited to notice, etc. So if someone who is genuinely trying to understand something and has long term training and practice has difficulty executing a meaningful study then it is almost absurd to expect a lay person to be able to just throw together some project in their basement. It does happen but it is so infrequent that we hear about it when it does. Kind of like when a credentialed scientist intentionally fudges data. It does happen, but so infrequently that it is news-worthy. The more common case is simply drawing conclusions that aren't exactly represented by the data you gather. We do this very assignment with "real" papers all the time with students, at least once a week- read this "legitimate" publication from X highly reputed journal, tell me what it says and tell me why it shouldn't have said that. That's generally why we work in teams from an assortment of specialties, right? To avoid oversights that people from other backgrounds would/will catch.

You can set up some project in your basement and call your self an "official scientist" and a "lab" if you want, but no one will believe you until someone else in a more controlled setting with verifiable training can reproduce your results. In all likelihood, unless you are one of those very rare cases, they won't be able to or will be able to find a myriad of other obvious explanations for what you are seeing counter to what you concluded.
Every person that has some kind of college degree should know scientific methods. Of course, I might overlook something, but even "official" scientists do. And they do it very often, that's why we get researchs on same subjects with totally different results. But if you ever read a scientific work you know it's mostly talking about methods used in experiment. Results and explanation are often taking up very small part of whole publication. There's a reason behind that, it makes other people think where I was wrong and do it better. Or even make their own conclusions based on my work. That's how science works. Reiterating, questioning and experimentation.

And who says I can't set up controlled setting? We live in time of free information. I can gather college level knowledge from almost any field you can think of. Of course, it will take time, but I myself spend on average more than 4 hours a day learning even though I'm not going to school anymore and am working full time.
 

jecraque

Arachnobaron
Joined
Oct 10, 2012
Messages
342
Every person that has some kind of college degree should know scientific methods. Of course, I might overlook something, but even "official" scientists do. And they do it very often, that's why we get researchs on same subjects with totally different results. But if you ever read a scientific work you know it's mostly talking about methods used in experiment. Results and explanation are often taking up very small part of whole publication. There's a reason behind that, it makes other people think where I was wrong and do it better. Or even make their own conclusions based on my work. That's how science works. Reiterating, questioning and experimentation.
I'll agree heartily that this should be how it is, but it doesn't seem to be so far... As a former educational researcher in the nature of science and evolution education, I can state with reasonable certainty that not only is this not the case for non-science major college grads, but actual biology majors in undergrad have very poor understandings of evolution and NoS, as do secondary science educators.

I haven't seen research on this bit, but I'd guess this declines as you look at educators of younger groups--by the time my kids get to me they're positive that science is all about proving things and theories maturing into laws. I'd also suspect that working scientists publishing most of their important work behind a paywall probably isn't helping much.
 

jakykong

Arachnobaron
Joined
Sep 19, 2011
Messages
456
I'll agree heartily that this should be how it is, but it doesn't seem to be so far... As a former educational researcher in the nature of science and evolution education, I can state with reasonable certainty that not only is this not the case for non-science major college grads, but actual biology majors in undergrad have very poor understandings of evolution and NoS, as do secondary science educators.

I haven't seen research on this bit, but I'd guess this declines as you look at educators of younger groups--by the time my kids get to me they're positive that science is all about proving things and theories maturing into laws. I'd also suspect that working scientists publishing most of their important work behind a paywall probably isn't helping much.
Right, that's why every college graduate *should* know scientific methods. ;) But in any case, the converse holds as well: People who have no formal education, but listen, read, and pay attention can learn how to do properly controlled experiments just fine. (I personally fall into the "college student" category, but I value science very highly, so I may not be a representative sample.) It's not just evolution that people are ignorant of, either. But evolution in particular (at least in the USA) has had to fight against rampant creationism continually, so its teaching is utterly abysmal, and even where it is taught well, many students simply refuse to learn for religious reasons.

Nevertheless, I don't think a controlled experiment testing most hypotheses about hybridization would require a complete understanding of evolution. A Mendelian concept of heredity is probably sufficient for anything a hobbyist would have the resources to test. I'll happily consider counterexamples.
 

Tarac

Arachnolord
Joined
Oct 6, 2011
Messages
618
Every person that has some kind of college degree should know scientific methods. Of course, I might overlook something, but even "official" scientists do. And they do it very often, that's why we get researchs on same subjects with totally different results. But if you ever read a scientific work you know it's mostly talking about methods used in experiment. Results and explanation are often taking up very small part of whole publication. There's a reason behind that, it makes other people think where I was wrong and do it better. Or even make their own conclusions based on my work. That's how science works. Reiterating, questioning and experimentation.

And who says I can't set up controlled setting? We live in time of free information. I can gather college level knowledge from almost any field you can think of. Of course, it will take time, but I myself spend on average more than 4 hours a day learning even though I'm not going to school anymore and am working full time.
Of course it is theoretically possible, we have some examples of it. But as I also said, they are few and far between. This is because no matter how much literature you gather you really have to understand fully which techniques to apply to each study and the nuances and shortcomings of your assorted tests in order to draw any meaningful conclusions. It would take so long just to learn all the background information that it lends itself to poorly designed experiments with conclusions not supported by the data.

In fact, methods usually describe how tests were done in a very general manner- which techniques, technologies and conditions are involved. The reason they take up so much space (and frequently not the bulk of the paper- discussion and background introduction are often very hefty sections relatively, that is highly dependent on the publisher and the requirements) is because one has to describe the experimental conditions so that they can be repeated and critiqued as well as to include multiple methods used for verifying what results a research group thinks they are seeing. Discussion and presentation of resulting data are in fact the bulk of the paper in most cases I would wager. For each technique there is a corresponding result and then a discussion of each (sometimes altogether, depends on publisher at this point).

Also, your information isn't really free. Subscriptions, correspondences with people who expect to be paid for the time and specialized knowledge, access. Those are all luxuries of being associated with some kind of body that has institutional permission. I have it, you might have it and certainly many other people have it but that also means we have day jobs (and institutions that own our intellectual property if it makes use of any of those luxuries we have by virtue of our employment with them). A few big journals here and there are freely available, but the majority of them- especially those for tarantulas, since that is our subject here- are not at all free. It often takes years and years for a professional group to generate a publishable quality study and this is with all the resources, literature and time at their disposal PLUS the required background knowledge already under their belt. Rarely do people even jump fields even after they have specialized. To take on something with only access to college level information is even more rare and to do so successfully is practically impossible.

It's fairly obvious why it would be so difficult for someone to just decide they wanted to do experimental research without being a specialist in at least a neighboring field. Hence we have so few examples of successful work along these lines. Sure, if one devotes every single free moment of their time and money to a particular study it might be possible (assuming unlimited resources of course). But it's also possible for someone to build a ship and fly to the moon on one's on time and money. How often does it happen? I understand ideologically what you are getting at but you have to also be pragmatic about the limitations, extra challenges and the established system which we have work with. Why do you think most work is so guarded? I'm not saying I agree with it, but it is what it is. I'm sure in large part this why tarantulas remain as mysterious as they are to date- not easy for even an arachnologist (a rare thing these days anyway) to devote time and money to it let alone a hobbyist. Sad, but true.

---------- Post added 03-11-2013 at 09:57 AM ----------

Right, that's why every college graduate *should* know scientific methods. ;) But in any case, the converse holds as well: People who have no formal education, but listen, read, and pay attention can learn how to do properly controlled experiments just fine. (I personally fall into the "college student" category, but I value science very highly, so I may not be a representative sample.) It's not just evolution that people are ignorant of, either. But evolution in particular (at least in the USA) has had to fight against rampant creationism continually, so its teaching is utterly abysmal, and even where it is taught well, many students simply refuse to learn for religious reasons.

Nevertheless, I don't think a controlled experiment testing most hypotheses about hybridization would require a complete understanding of evolution. A Mendelian concept of heredity is probably sufficient for anything a hobbyist would have the resources to test. I'll happily consider counterexamples.
Mendelian genetics are very very simple in the scheme of things. The viability of your study with only Mendelian genetics under your belt would depend greatly on what you were trying to accomplish by hybridizing. If you are just trying to make an extra colorful tarantula it is first- not really that interesting, more like a marketing issue within the hobby and second maybe tangentially saying something about the apparent heritability of one or two qualities with tarantulas (even that, if you wanted to make any real conclusions, would require confirmation with molecular data these days anyway). A "study" along those lines is much more akin to a high school science fair project (and even those are usually far more sophisticated these days with kids now able to tag on to their mom and dad's laboratories, etc. making things you know that they could not afford to do without the benefits of their parent's institutional connections).

I think you underestimate the power of the "system" or the overestimate the significance of crossing tarantulas to see if you get more or less colorful/hairy/etc. Even that would barely be considered a study of tarantula genetics. You could publish it in a rudimentary journal but the thing about the "system" is that people won't believe you or won't even come across your information if it's in the back of some publication that a few online users are a part of. It's crappy that money is so involved in everything nowadays but the kind of information we don't have and what we require to convincingly demonstrate it necessitates this. Gone are the days of crossing peas together to see what color flowers and height of plant you get I'm afraid.
 

jakykong

Arachnobaron
Joined
Sep 19, 2011
Messages
456
Also, your information isn't really free. Subscriptions, correspondences with people who expect to be paid for the time and specialized knowledge, access. Those are all luxuries of being associated with some kind of body that has institutional permission. I have it, you might have it and certainly many other people have it but that also means we have day jobs (and institutions that own our intellectual property if it makes use of any of those luxuries we have by virtue of our employment with them). A few big journals here and there are freely available, but the majority of them- especially those for tarantulas, since that is our subject here- are not at all free. It often takes years and years for a professional group to generate a publishable quality study and this is with all the resources, literature and time at their disposal PLUS the required background knowledge already under their belt. Rarely do people even jump fields even after they have specialized. To take on something with only access to college level information is even more rare and to do so successfully is practically impossible.
To me, this is iconic of a flaw in our institutions. I understand the economic, and in some cases historical, reasons underlying this, but really, this is the information age; it seems like publications should be open to the public, at least after some time. The result of NOT doing that is that the general public is so utterly uninformed that they've got decades of catching up to do. It only lends credence to the unfortunate perspective that scientists are on airs, living in this high-falutin' world of academia and passing down commandments rather than, what should be the case, scientists presenting findings and evidence clearly enough that the general public can grasp it.

Ugh. I'm waxing idyllic here; perhaps we'll find a solution to this problem someday, but I doubt it'll be any time soon.
 

Tarac

Arachnolord
Joined
Oct 6, 2011
Messages
618
To me, this is iconic of a flaw in our institutions. I understand the economic, and in some cases historical, reasons underlying this, but really, this is the information age; it seems like publications should be open to the public, at least after some time. The result of NOT doing that is that the general public is so utterly uninformed that they've got decades of catching up to do. It only lends credence to the unfortunate perspective that scientists are on airs, living in this high-falutin' world of academia and passing down commandments rather than, what should be the case, scientists presenting findings and evidence clearly enough that the general public can grasp it.

Ugh. I'm waxing idyllic here; perhaps we'll find a solution to this problem someday, but I doubt it'll be any time soon.
Exactly. I agree 100%. There is a major disconnect between modern science and the general public and it causes much grief where none should be. Evolution, which should be fairly easy to convey, is a great example. And it's hard for public who haven't been involved in some facet of research to distinguish the names on the study from the assorted names of the funding agencies, hosting institutions and publishers and how that effects the type and format of the studies that are undertaken. It's frustrating for everyone.

On the other hand, some information is not possible to clearly convey to people who do not share your background in X characters or less. At least with NIH and several other big contributers to research all studies have to made public. It doesn't mean they are intelligible if it's not your specialty- indeed I have trouble with quite a few papers myself that are not far from what I do because the information contained within deals with incredibly small details of something I didn't study myself. But at least I have all those nice subscriptions via my institution so I can try to clarify it in an efficient manner. Part of it is funding issues and credit for institutions involved in supporting the work and part of it is simply due to having figured out much of the "easy" stuff so now we're down to tiny little mechanisms of this and that and models that only a biophysicist can understand, etc. Just the nature of our ever growing knowledge base. It is no longer possible to be a "renaissance" man in the classic sense because the sea of information is practically limitless. All we can do is try our best and to learn how to distinguish between "probably correct" and some random .org web page pandering to our sensibilities.
 

jakykong

Arachnobaron
Joined
Sep 19, 2011
Messages
456
Exactly. I agree 100%. There is a major disconnect between modern science and the general public and it causes much grief where none should be. Evolution, which should be fairly easy to convey, is a great example. And it's hard for public who haven't been involved in some facet of research to distinguish the names on the study from the assorted names of the funding agencies, hosting institutions and publishers and how that effects the type and format of the studies that are undertaken. It's frustrating for everyone.

On the other hand, some information is not possible to clearly convey to people who do not share your background in X characters or less. At least with NIH and several other big contributers to research all studies have to made public. It doesn't mean they are intelligible if it's not your specialty- indeed I have trouble with quite a few papers myself that are not far from what I do because the information contained within deals with incredibly small details of something I didn't study myself. But at least I have all those nice subscriptions via my institution so I can try to clarify it in an efficient manner. Part of it is funding issues and credit for institutions involved in supporting the work and part of it is simply due to having figured out much of the "easy" stuff so now we're down to tiny little mechanisms of this and that and models that only a biophysicist can understand, etc. Just the nature of our ever growing knowledge base. It is no longer possible to be a "renaissance" man in the classic sense because the sea of information is practically limitless. All we can do is try our best and to learn how to distinguish between "probably correct" and some random .org web page pandering to our sensibilities.
I consider the likes of Carl Sagan, Anne Druyan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and, despite having some disagreement with his tone, Richard Dawkins to be exemplars of the proper way to do science. Even NASA during the '60s. While it is true that a layman will not be able to comprehend a research paper, it is also certainly true that someone who understands what is going on should be able to summarize in plain language. We still need experts, but if those experts are living in an ivory tower, it serves only to alienate the public. :)
 

iPippin

Arachnosquire
Joined
Mar 10, 2013
Messages
57
(Note: I hesitate to use the term "species" for reasons covered in a thread linked to in a previous posting.)

If the arachnologists/taxonomists are correct in their opinion that the parents really are the same "kinds" of tarantula, the offspring would almost surely be fertile and their appearances would be controlled by the basic rules of genetics much like Mendel's peas, pet hamsters, and humans. Yes, that is an evasion. I didn't answer your question directly because exactly how the offspring will appear (their "phenotype") is a rather complicated issue.

In general, when crossing two disparate parents the first generation offspring (called F1 - "first filial" - in the science of genetics*) usually look like an average of the two parents "melded" together. The joke in the field of genetics is that they all inherit the worst characteristics of both parents! (See Africanized Bees for an example.) Hybrid tarantulas tend to be rather grubby intermediates of their parents, for instance. And, all members of the F1 generation commonly look very much alike.

Significant differences between the individuals appear only after these F1 offspring are inter-crossed again to produce a so-called F2 generation. This allows the chromosomes to reshuffle into the full spectrum of combinations allowed by probability and genetics.

This presents us with a bit of a problem because the F1 individuals that arachnoculture enthusiasts are currently presented with are not truly representative of the full spectrum of possible variations, and any opinions made about them are of necessity vastly uninformed. We won't know the true story about hybridizing until these F1 individuals mature and some enterprising enthusiast inter-crosses them to produce an F2 generation. And, even then, a lengthy period of time will be required before the F2 individuals have a chance to grow and develop their adult characteristics. At that point, the F2 individuals will be segregated into pools of like individuals and selective breeding will produce stable varietal lines of tarantulas with collections of characters not found in nature, but in high demand in the hobby.

My prediction, based on what happened with pigeons, orchids, tropical fish, and reptiles is that the results are going to blow your socks off! And, while you may demean what happened in those hobbies, there are still a lot of people out there who fairly drool over the hybrids, color, and pattern variations at every show. In fact, they probably outnumber the purists by a wide margin!

What happens if the parents AREN'T truly the same "species?" There is a very wide spectrum of possibilities ranging from one possible parent merely eating the either, through mating (or not), through various levels of embryonic development (or not), through various levels of survivability (or not), through various levels of fertility (or not). The game of effective reproduction requires that everything in a long and complex chain of circumstances and events must go almost exactly right. (Are you familiar with the child's game, "Simon Says?") Otherwise it doesn't work.

These inherent natural restraints in reproduction are probably a big reason why we do perceive something akin to "species," to segregate organisms into different kinds rather than presenting us with one huge, seething mass of mating bunnies. And, which allowed Darwin and Wallace to write The Book. Something "out there" really does exist, but our current understanding of "it" suffers some serious shortcomings.

[Too many links? Sorry. :eek: I was afraid a lot of people wouldn't understand some of the finer or more technical points, so I linked to outside references and definitions to make it easier for them.]


Enjoy your little 8-legged "poodle," named Foo-Foo!


* Note that geneticists do not normally concern themselves with concepts such as species. To a geneticist, a hybrid is the result of a cross between any two differing individuals, and the term is most often used to describe a combination of two different visible characters ("phenotype," e.g., hybrid for petal color), or two demonstrably different genetic characters or traits ("genotype," e.g., hybrid for NLGN1) in an organism. And, since the results of researches in Genetics are always consistent and reproducible, Genetics can be considered a true science.
This made me want to try doing hybrids.. Lol.
 
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