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The CAUSE of Pyramiding

Discussion in 'Advanced Tortoise Topics' started by Markw84, Jul 6, 2016.

  1. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    Trouble is mark. In the wild they will eat what ever they find, think of a redfoot that finds a dead bird, it will eat every part of that bird, another redfoot may not find one for months, mother nature combats that with humidity and rainfall. Must do!!!!

    Yes I agree, once it's layed down it stays layed down. After let's say a hatchling is a 6months old the bone structure is set, it will follow that set path. This falls in with they hatch in monsoon season. Think of the bone structure as a tree branch, you can train it when young and supple but once it's hardened off it follows the path you set it on. After the bone structure is set, the keratin will follow if what you are saying is right about keratin being pretty uniform.
  2. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    I will read this back tomorrow when no alcohol in system :D
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  3. Markw84

    Markw84 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    I agree to a point - I think the "set structure" is not so set, and happens far later. I am seeing this with my Burmese Stars. 5 - 7 years to "set" a pattern of pyramiding, yet I see it dramatically almost stopped in 3 months with the new growth. It seems as long as there is substantial growth compared to overall size, the growth pattern is malleable. To what degree, I am believing is a relation to total size vs. the amount of new growth added.

    In re-reading what I am struggling to try to say - I thing I might need more alcohol!
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  4. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    Mark. I'm trying to think how opposite species deal with what we are talking about.

    For example

    A redfoot eats a high level of protein and fruits,. This is compensated on the outer karatin layer through high humidity and heavy rainfall.

    This is where I'm struggling.

    A testudo from the island of Majorca does not eat a high level of protein or fruits.
    So to make the math simple let's say a redfoot is 100% in protein intake(foliage and meat) and 100% in humidity and rainfall. The bone and keratin is on par.

    Now lets say a testudo on the island of Majorca is only 50% humidity and rainfall, does this mean that with each species the internal (the underneath of keratin growth) needs to match the external ambient hydration. (Hence lower humidity is advised in testudo's compared to redfoots).

    Then let's look at homeana hingebacks(I have these). Super humid with marsh type conditions ,and a very high protein intake. 80%ish.

    What I'm trying to say is. Because a redfoot eats more fruit and protein is this balanced with heavy rainfall, as oppose to a testudo in drier conditions not eating fruit and MEAT protein. Is that how mother nature balanced it up?
    Glug glug glug.
  5. mark1

    mark1 Well-Known Member

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    i think this article answers the question if humidity effects beta-keratin as it does alpha-keratin


    https://www.researchgate.net/public...l_Organisms_and_Efforts_at_Bioinspiration#pf5




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  6. Markw84

    Markw84 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Very little protein consumed goes to keratin production. It takes very little. So - more protein does not mean more keratin or thicker scutes. Just as if you ate more protein, it would not result in thicker fingernails and hair. To get where a lack of protein would limit keratin production, would have to be virtual starvation. So some is needed, but more protein does not lead to more keratin.

    I am not theorizing the amount of keratin produced is tied to humidity either. NO balance there. I am saying the amount of humidity can affect the way keratin 'sets' or develops in the growing stage. In fact, I am proposing whatever humidity is present, the AMOUNT of keratin is the same. The way it is then forced to grow is different.
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  7. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    Still not read back, too many kids in house this last weekend, chaos:D
    Your probably right with protein levels, anyway if more keratin is produced then also tort would grow faster bringing everything back on par.
    So back to my 1 juvie out of 3 that slightly pyramided, variables are diet, time spent under CHE, time spent in warmer part of the enclosure and amount of water on torts carapace. Humitiy and soaks were exactly the same. The only thing I can think of applying your logic is, because it grew faster it didn't get enough hydration from above. I.e artificial rain.
    This is a smooth one, it's just going through another growth spell, you can see the plates have split but not yet fill with keratin. In your logic, this is the most important time to get humidity/hydration in that crevice between the plates. Hydrating from below works but not 100% full proof. Hydrating from above is 100% full proof to equalize the internal hydration of the underside of new keratin. Do you agree.
    Mark, I'm on holiday next weekend for 12 days. When I get back I'm going to see about getting some x-rays done of some of my torts. I have every combination possible I think in this herd. I'll find out today if that's possible for the exotic vet to do.
    I'll show you the torts 1st. Then pick some out. IMG_20160706_183943.jpg
  8. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    So when we see torts that have scutes pulled in a disfigured direction, it's because the artificial heat source has dried out the keratin directly below the heat source more than the keratin on the opposite side of the scute. Causing uneven keratin growth.
    Like this.
    If that's the case, anything other than even heat all over the carapace will cause uneven growth too.
    IMG_0317.JPG
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  9. Markw84

    Markw84 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Craig:

    A couple things. You mention the one that grew faster is showing some pyramiding. Only saw a picture of your smooth one. Would love to see the mildly pyramided one for comparison. I assume that, from what I am proposing, the faster growth would expose wider new keratin seams - and they would be more prone to the effect. Also I believe there must just be a difference in keratin production between individuals. Just as some people have thicker, stronger fingernails, than others who have weak, brittle fingernails. Perhaps if keratin in a particular tortoise is just thinner, it is more likely to show effects, or even if thicker, perhaps it is laying down new keratin a bit longer and has a longer window for this to happen.

    As far as hydration from beneath - the underside of the scute. I don't think that will vary. It is in direct contact with living tissue. Even a very dessicated, badly dehydrated tortoise would be the same in that regard as a fully hydrated tortoise. It would have to be dead, and dead quite a while, to ever move away from 100% "humidity" at the bottom of the scute. The variable is the exposed part of the scute while growing - the top.

    x-rays are an interesting look into things. If you're going to get that done, what I would look for if it will show in the quality of image done:
    Any perceptible difference in the overall thickness of the scute (keratin) of the smooth, vs pyramided.
    also, any difference in bone density between the two. - faster growth vs slower growth.



    I would believe if you are talking about scutes disfigured and "pulled together" we are not talking about the pyramiding issue I am proposing at all. If the scute is being deformed laterally, not the downward growth of pyramiding, I think that is a bone issue. The scute is deforming as the problem is being reflected in the bone seam, not the scute seam. Metabolic Bone Disease does that. Injury damaging the bone does that.
  10. DPtortiose

    DPtortiose Member

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    Because the homogeneous thickness must be maintained, therefore there are cells in the center that produce keratin to maintain this. Keratin wears down just like everything else, so growth must be present in the center. Or it would lead to exposed bone. Besides, hatchling scutes are noticeable less thicker then those of an adult. So there must be center growth

    Ah, that makes your point much clearer.

    Ah, so your proposing that an increased growth from the bottom strains the shell. That would be more of an genetic problem then an environmental one though. Growth is regulated by messenger RNA (it’s DNA but a little bit different) and genes,it’s possible that one of these things is ‘broken’ and extra growth occurs. Or if the progress is simply 'made' to repair wear more quickly.

    It’s sound theory if you look at the difference between ‘bloodlines’ and state that the humidity softens the keratin and decreases it’s hardness. It’s then less likely to deform the bone and thus provide a more smooth animal. The definitive proof would lie with captive animals grown in their native habitat. If offspring experiences similar growth as their parents in ‘optimal’ conditions.

    Don't get me wrong, I you have a interesting theory and I'm argueing from a luxery position (I don't have burden of proof), but a scientific theory is only usefull if it correctly predicts something. The aeronautical engineers might not be able to make a bumblebee fly with their theory, but they are able to make a plain fly.

    The critique that I have on this theory it isn't based on any direct evidence and that it doesn't make complelety correct predictions. I do very much like the the assumptions it's based on and it's thought out quite elegantly. I think the idea that the keratin misshapes the bone is a good angle to work from, I simply disagree with the cause.

    The reason I haven't put forward anything concrete is because I'm still debating cause and effect. Looking a the X-rays from Yvonne the 'bumbs' are clearly caused by deformities in the bone. So I'm wondering if the keratin is simply a big red herring and we're focusing on an environment 'bandage' like Highfield suggests, while the real problem lies elsewhere in the husbandry.
  11. DPtortiose

    DPtortiose Member

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    Very interesting research, it has some very interesting figures on the hardness of dry and wet beta keratin. It's a shame nothing is stated about the swelling of beta keratin, it's pretty much repeats the previous studies finding on alpha keratin. The question if beta-keratin swells and how much it would swell is still not answered, but the difference in hardness is very useful information I think.

    What if the opposite of what we're discussing is true? Instead of the keratin pushing down, the bone is unable to push up as the animal grows. The bone wants to push out since it needs to grow. The new keratin growth hardens to quickly in dry conditions so it is much harder then the softer keratin in the center of the scutes. The bone is able to 'push' the soft center keratin out, but is unable to push hard new growth lines up, resulting in the x-rays Yvonne posted.
  12. Markw84

    Markw84 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    @DPtortoise Interesting you mention Highfield. Since I have been going back replying in this thread, I yesterday noticed on the bottom of the page a "Similar Thread" from Nov 2013. Sure looks like Andy Highfield assumed the name of testudoresearcher, and laid out a detailed theory quite similar to this and was probably trying to promote a new book. But from the excellent evidence he did lay out to support his theory, it does pretty conclusively link the humidity and growth of keratin. As well as confirm most all new keratin is formed at the scute seams, not under the older parts of the scute. In fact all the research and evidence he lays out goes directly to support my proposal here. He came to a slightly different conclusion that to me does not account for all the things I cite. He is concluding the scute creates an upward, curling pressure pulling the bone upward. Doesn't make sense as he says the top is becoming stiffer, the bottom can swell. Simple physics say that would cause the scute to bend in a concave direction, not pyramid!

    I am just curious why no one in that thread called him on his previous statements shown in Tom's End of Pyramiding thread, that looking at humidity had absolutely no valid scientific connection to pyramiding, and was "red herring"! ????? I Believe that is what you are referring to.
  13. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 5 Year Member Platinum Supporter

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    We knew that was Andy, and was probably only here because he had a new book coming out, but didn't want him to stop posting.

    Way back when, Tom did experiments and shared all the pictures and information with the Forum. Because we were able to see it all first hand (so to speak) I believed in the humidity theory. Tom wasn't the only one who touted this theory. The first I heard of it was from one of the Fife brothers. Then our favorite RF (now DBT) member, RedfootNERD used to always say spray them until they drip. But then Tom came along with his very visible experiments with pictures shown over time. You just can't refute it when you see it like that.

    But no one can argue with Andy or Nadine. I used to belong to their Yahoo group. If you dared to say anything different from what they espoused, they made fun of you or ignored you. They weren't open to any other ideas besides their own.
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2016
  14. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    Mark.
    By hydrating from beneath,I was referring to a tort sitting in a puddle as oppose to a tort getting rained on to make the outer layer of keratin supple so it is on par with the internal side of the keratin. My bad. Sorry. Soaking a tort helps it grow smoother, why? How does sitting a tort in 1" depth of water help the new keratin on top of its carapace become supple so to grow smoother? I can only think the keratin is absorbing more internally. So if like you say, some torts produce thicker keratin layers than other, then on the thicker keratin produces maybe soaking doesn't quite cut it. However would hydration from above(rain/humidity) over come any thickness of keratin. So on my mildly pyramided tort was it a case of soaking didn't quite cut it because he has thicker growing keratin.

    The tort I loaded with scutes pulled together is also pyramided. If what you are saying that dry keratin forces the bone to grow down and nice hydrated supple keratin allows the bone to grow correctly. Why if a tort sits under a heat lamp creating a hot spot on its carapace wouldnt a scutes new keratin be able to be both dry and humid. The heat lamp could be making one side of a scute drier (keratin harder) than the other side. So one side is pushing bone down and the other is not. I think this tort has just been nominated for an x-ray.

    Here you go

    IMG_20160706_184012.jpg
  15. DPtortiose

    DPtortiose Member

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    Depends, I think he's assuming that the stiffer (upper) layer of keratin gives in instead of the bone (as you do). Which seems more logical to me, since bone is denser and less elastic then the top layer of keratin. The scute will curve upwards pulling the bone with it. creating a hump.

    I was referring to this: http://www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/pyramiding.html Specificity the parts about humidity softening the the structure of the keratin and bone density. Perhaps the bones in captive animals aren't as dense of wild tortoises and therefore have trouble pushing the hardened edges outwards. The bone underneath the center scutes don't have this problem and can grow out more easily, forming the bumbs we see.A high humidity helps to soft the outer growth allowing the bone to grow outwards and push the keratin with it. It would also explain why a lack of calcium shows similar symptoms (or argueable the same) as pyramiding.

    I was more stating that perhaps we've simply been starring at one solution to long, don't get me wrong I think there is a very real connection between pyramiding and humidity. But the closer you look at a puzzle piece the less you see of the complete puzzle. Perhaps we're simply looking at the wrong puzzle piece, perhaps not.
  16. BrianWI

    BrianWI Well-Known Member

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    I would love to see a shell with pyramids with the keratin removed. Don't suppose we have one around anywhere?
  17. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    Does anyone have any x-rays they can share with us. We've seen a perfect smooth x-ray and a perfect pyramided x-ray. We need to see some that have pyramiding then it's smoothed out. Or a pyramided with deformed scutes x-ray for comparison. I'm defo going to get some done, but won't be for 3 wks if I can't get it done this week, which is highly unlikely.
  18. BrianWI

    BrianWI Well-Known Member

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    The growth plates of the bone aren't aligned with the scutes, that is where I am having an issue putting it together.
  19. Markw84

    Markw84 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Exactly. That's why it isn't and can't be bone pressure, but scute pressure. The pyramiding follows the shape of the scute, not the shape of the bone.

    Bone, especially in young, is EXTREMELY pliable and moldable. An extremely small downward pressure by the growth of new keratin that becomes stiffer on top forcing the growth more downward, would easily be enough to cause the bone to grow in that same direction. We see examples all the time, from the Mangbetu tribe reshaping infant girl's heads, to my grandson's corrective helmet. Orthodontics, leg braces, Ancient Asian foot binding. A root can lift concrete with cellular pressure, a mushroom can poke through and reshape asphalt as it emerges. And it explains why we see tortoises that have pyramiding stop kept in identical conditions as they get larger. Mine certainly did. Look at the photos Craig @Anyfoot provided. Although his pyramided redfoot is barely what I would call pyramided, it is growing slightly differently. And if we look closely at the scute growth we see the same differences I noticed with my Burmese about the characteristic of the growth we can see. A smooth growing tortoise seems to have upward bulges as the new keratin is laid down, while the more pyramided one has the new growth discernably flatter on top. I am presuming this is forcing the growth downward then as the scute retains its same thickness.

    Here's a closer look comparing Craig's two tortoises: Notice on the scute I reference for smooth (humped) on the far right, it looks like it grew a little pyramid-like at a very young age, and smoothed out a bit later. The pyramided one also looks like it was a bit more pronounced earlier. Craig - did you start them a bit drier the first 6 or 12 months??



    Smooth closeup.jpg

    Pyramid closeup.jpg
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2016
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  20. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    Mark. I got these at 4months old, although this one was slightly bigger, got them from a breeder who also owns a reptile shop. I don't know how they started them off, but the yearlings they had were pyramided.
    This is the one variable I have no control over. I personally think they were started dry, but I caught the 2 smaller ones in time and the pyramided one just out of the bone setting time. If this is agreeable, it means bone hardens off between 4 and 6months.
    I have weights of these, I should be able to say what age they were when my hatchling reaches the weight I got these at, I know they all grow at slightly different weights, but not vastly, surely.
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