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From the Moth with a Gouged Out Eye

 
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Ken Ramos



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PostPosted: Sat Aug 05, 2006 5:56 pm    Post subject: From the Moth with a Gouged Out Eye Reply with quote

After exploiting the moth with a serious and quite open head wound, I decided to take a shot of its wing scales. The grainy appearance is not so much as noise, as it is the reflective properties of the scales themselves. Very Happy



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beetleman



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PostPosted: Sun Aug 06, 2006 9:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great shot of the scales Ken....they almost look like brush strokes. On a side note...your shots of the lichen in the old forum were fantastic..I enjoyed them greatly Wink
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Ken Ramos



Joined: 27 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 06, 2006 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glad that you liked them, the lichens, Doug. Very Happy Lichens for the most part seldom draw attention as far a photography goes, except for those who may be interested in them or unless they are quite colorful like those that you posted earlier. Very Happy

As for these moth scales, they can sometimes be hard to photograph if the light strikes them wrong or is to intense, since they reflect and scatter light a great deal. While photographing these, I wondered if the shape and size of the scales are taken into account when a particular moth is identified. Mostly I see moths and butterflies identified by their size and color patterns, along with some of the more visible anatomical features. But what about those features that are not so visible, could two moths or butterflies that appear to be the same species be totally different due to physcial characteristics not outwardly or readily noticed and could the same differences be detected in the larvae of them by microscopic examination?

This thought came about when I considered myxomycetes or plasmodial slime molds. Some species look the same outwardly but microscopic inspection of the spores show them to be quite different and therefore not entirely of the same species. Anyway I just wondered if that too would apply to identifying other forms of life as well. Thanks for the comments Doug. Very Happy
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rjlittlefield
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 07, 2006 7:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ken Ramos wrote:
While photographing these, I wondered if the shape and size of the scales are taken into account when a particular moth is identified. Mostly I see moths and butterflies identified by their size and color patterns, along with some of the more visible anatomical features. But what about those features that are not so visible, could two moths or butterflies that appear to be the same species be totally different due to physcial characteristics not outwardly or readily noticed and could the same differences be detected in the larvae of them by microscopic examination?

Those are interesting questions, Ken.

Shape and size of scales are not used much in identifying butterflies and moths. I suspect that's because they vary so much from place to place on any individual (as your picture shows!) and this variation swamps systematic differences between species.

But the general issue -- "not outwardly or readily noticed" -- certainly applies. In butterflies and moths, the structures of both male and female genitalia tend to be a) distinctive between species and b) stable within a species. As a result, it's almost universal for journal articles to include photomicrographs or drawings of these structures.

These days, of course, the emphasis is shifting toward the very tiniest of structures -- the arrangements of atoms that we call "DNA sequences". I believe the number given by one of my zoologist friends is that we're less than a decade away from being able to sequence the entire genome of most any organism for a few hundred $$, overnight. I don't think I can even imagine what effect that will have on biology!

--Rik
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Ken Ramos



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 07, 2006 3:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rik replied:
Quote:
I believe the number given by one of my zoologist friends is that we're less than a decade away from being able to sequence the entire genome of most any organism for a few hundred $$, overnight. I don't think I can even imagine what effect that will have on biology!


From what I have read, we may be much closer than that. There were comments made in one discussion I listened to, of humans "made to order" and all that was needed was just one tiny skin cell; just enough to extract a small amount of DNA to get the sequencing code from. Then the cell can be discarded and the processes of creation begins by building on this sequencing code and creating an identical, living, breathing, Rik Littlefied, right down to the color of his eyes and hair Shocked . Sounds extremely far fetched if you ask me but the claim was made that we were on the verge of doing so and the process is a very simple one.

I should be from Missouri, "show me." However, I am doubtful that it will happen, at least not in a way that the general public will know about. Amazing what a little discussion on moths and butterflies can bring up. However I am still curious as to my questions on identifiying certain life forms. Could there be a difference or differences, that have gone undetected for all these years. Could what we now call modern science, in the biological sense, be wrong? Rolling Eyes
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rjlittlefield
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 07, 2006 11:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ken Ramos wrote:
However I am still curious as to my questions on identifiying certain life forms. Could there be a difference or differences, that have gone undetected for all these years. Could what we now call modern science, in the biological sense, be wrong?

Well, I don't know exactly what the question is, but I'm pretty sure the answer is "Absolutely!".

Consider...

Suppose you decide to explore the simple question of how many species of bacteria there are. Ask Google what people are writing about "species of bacteria". Include the quotes.

As of 2 minutes ago, within the first 10 hits, there appear the following statements:

  • There are more than 15000 known species of bacteria living in the sea. [ref]
  • A single gram of rich, undisturbed soil may contain as many as 5,000 different species of bacteria (more bacterial species, even, than all those that have been described by science). [ref]
  • In 1980, The International Committee on Systematic Bacteriology agreed to reduce the accepted number of named species of bacteria from more than 30,000 to about 2,500 species. [ref]
  • Brazilian Trees May Harbor Millions of Unidentified Species of Bacteria [ref].

Now, let's presume -- and I think it's fair to do so -- that all these quotes trace back to legitimate statements about what some piece of "science" thinks about bacteria species.

Then it seems pretty clear, just from the numbers, that either there is considerable disagreement about what a "species" is, or great ignorance about how many species there are, or both.

Personally, I'd go with "both".

The species concept is fairly well defined for organisms that reproduce by mating -- it's a population that persists over time and has substantial genetic exchange throughout the population with no or very limited exchange outside the population even when given the opportunity.

But the species concept is not so well defined for organisms that reproduce primarily by division, and that exchange genetic material only in little chunks, and often with critters whose overall genome is quite different. (Read up on plasmids for amusement.)

So, it hardly matters exactly what question you're asking.

Are we going to look closer at some population of moths that we thought was well-mixed, and find that it's actually two separate non-mixing populations and therefore two species? I'd certainly expect to -- that's happened lots of times in the past.

Are we going to discover that our standard models of how to classify stuff ("species") are really inadequate to describe important relationships and groupings? Absolutely -- that's already happened, but the general language hasn't caught up yet. More important, perhaps, the legal language hasn't caught up either -- anybody want to rethink the Endangered Species Act?

Or maybe, just maybe, are we going to discover completely new inheritance relationships that nobody has thought of yet? Of course it's tempting to say, "nah, we've got all the basics solid now, we're just refining the details." But that's been said lots of times before, and it's been wrong every time.

Genetics is new stuff. The relationship between chromosomes and inheritance is barely 100 years old. The structure of DNA has been known for 50 years. Plasmids for 40. Prions 20. DNA methylation as a means of inheriting acquired state, gee, I dunno, but it's recent.

What will models of inheritance look like 50 years from now? I don't know. But I'll bet they'll have a lot different emphasis from today, and I'd be surprised if there's not some completely new concepts in there. I'm not sure that any of the current concepts will be proved "wrong", but I'd sure be willing to bet on "inadequate"!

Did something in here address your question?

What was that question, anyway?

--Rik

Edit: to repair broken link


Last edited by rjlittlefield on Tue Jun 24, 2014 9:54 am; edited 1 time in total
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Ken Ramos



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 2:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I suppose that I should have made myself a little clearer Rik. Embarassed I or my mind gets to wondering sometimes, as it often does, and I get the cart before the donkey. The questions that I have are many and quite scattered about enough to be unclear and to address each and everyone that I have on genetics would take a life time I would suppose. Laughing

Not to confuse things even more but it was interesting to read what you had to say and I never considered genetics to be in its youth but you have a point. When I think of genetics, my thoughts immediately go back, way back, to Mendle, fruit flies, and a host of other things. You did however answer a question that I had concerning mistakes in possible classifications and identification of species. That being...

Quote:
Are we going to discover that our standard models of how to classify stuff ("species") are really inadequate to describe important relationships and groupings? Absolutely -- that's already happened, but the general language hasn't caught up yet.


It seems I have read about it over and over but it, at the time, did not sink in I suppose. Think
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rjlittlefield
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 7:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ken,

Gee, I dunno. If you had "made yourself clearer", I would have had a lot less fun thinking about possible replies. I like questions that require some serious thinking to address. Notice that I didn't say "answer" -- some of the best questions can't be answered, they just spawn discussion! Confused Very Happy

The history of Mendel's work is itself a case of things being more complicated and interesting than they taught us in high school. He's the "father of modern genetics", right? But it's kind of a strange delayed parentage, since Mendel's work was essentially ignored for well over 30 years, from the end of his experiments in 1863 to the "rediscovery" of his work in the late 1890's and early 1900's.

Besides which, Mendel fortuitously managed to focus on just the very simplest situation, in which each observable characteristic is determined by only a single gene, and different characteristics/genes are inherited independently.

Most characteristics that we care about don't work that way, so Mendel's rules are at best only a crude approximation to the real world. But they're simple enough to be understandable, they reflect an underlying reality (of genes on chromosomes, we later discovered), and the model makes a good base that can be refined and fleshed out to be even better. It was a good learning tool for science, and it's a good teaching tool for students today.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregor_Mendel and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mendelian_inheritance for some interesting discussion. Very Happy

--Rik
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rjlittlefield
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 8:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ken Ramos wrote:
moth scales ... can sometimes be hard to photograph if the light strikes them wrong or is to intense, since they reflect and scatter light a great deal.

Yes, they're surprisingly difficult. At very low magnifications, they appear to have a matte texture that's easy to light. At very high magnifications, they have an elaborate structure that resolves well. But at medium magnifications, that elaborate structure acts like a zillion tiny mirrors all pointed at different angles. With a small light source, a small fraction of the mirrors are really bright and the rest are dim, leading to the noisy appearance that you noted.

Try whacking a pingpong ball in half and using it as a small light tent. The diffuse illumination makes a shocking difference.

--Rik
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Ken Ramos



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 4:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Laughing I am laughing at myself. Mendels laws amaze me and to this day I find them difficult to understand. More than likely because they are simple and I have a bad tendency to make simple things difficult and at times pass over them to something more advanced and then get in over my head. Which then leads to assimilating only bits and pieces of information and in turn leaves me knowing little of nothing. Laughing

It is not surprising but yet leaves me to wonder why no one every listens or pays attention to someone who is on the right track to an important find, until after that person has died and many years have passed before their work is given attention. Confused You know I would like to be able to delve more into this but my knowledge of genetics and the genome especially are limited. I am still trying to understand ssuRNA and the applictions it envolves, how I ever got into that is beyond me. Shocked
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