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Thread: "Aphonopelma" chalcodes adult female

  1. #11
    Stanley A. Schultz's Avatar
    Stanley A. Schultz is offline Stan Schultz Marguerite J. Schultz Co-authors, the TARANTULA KEEPER'S GUIDE
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Waterous View Post
    I noticed the quotes in your title, and recall some mention to the effect elsewhere, of which I may have misread... but are we in some danger of the Genus being renamed, or perhaps just a subset of species currently described as Aphonopelma? If the answer is yes, either directly or by proxy, is there a paper somewhere online?
    A fellow by the name of Dr. Brent Hendrixson at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi (USA) has had a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant for the last several years supporting his work on the taxonomy of the North American Aphonopelma. There are several important things to note about this:

    1) He's an official, card carrying, professional arachnologist, capable of doing reliable, believable work in the field. (Unlike a lot of the clumsy, semi-ignorant, poorly educated or self-educated pseudo-experts that have been mucking around and messing things up.)

    2) He's good enough to have earned a big league research grant. (Not a kitchen, basement or garage, home brew operation.)

    3) The results he publishes are subject to rigorous, scientific, peer review processes and are published in recognized scientific journals, not amateur newsletters, not pet hobbyist magazines, not self-published media releases, not comic books.

    4) The scientific community at large is finally sitting up and taking notice of the fact that there is serious science out there to be pursued that INCLUDES spiders and tarantulas.


    The last I spoke with Brent, he had found that of the nominal 52 or more species listed in Platnick's World Spider Catalog, perhaps fewer than 30 are valid. The others are invalid for a variety of reasons.

    [NOTE: This is not to be construed as a criticism of Dr. Platnick's work. The World Spider Catalog merely reports and correlates taxonomic publications about spiders, serving as a central reference for arachnology as a whole. And, Dr. Platnick is doing a truly remarkable job considering the difficulties and complexities of the project. We do not shoot the messenger!]

    And, during the course of his investigations Brent's lab has identified about a half dozen new species.

    Thus, the real number of North American Aphonopelma according to modern standards of taxonomy (e.g., using DNA and other analyses) is going to end up at about three dozen, give or take.

    But more importantly, his studies are going to reorganize our understanding of the genus. He says that when he finally publishes his magnum opus it's going to blow our socks off! We were THAT wrong in all our earlier assessments! When his final work is published a large number of our prejudices and beliefs, not to mention the names we've assumed were the King's truth, will change in a heartbeat.

    We wait with bated breath.


    "Our ignorance [about tarantulas] is staggering."
    - S. A. Schultz, TKG3
    The Tarantula Whisperer!
    Stan Schultz
    Co-author, the TARANTULA KEEPER'S GUIDE
    Private messaging is turned OFF!
    Please E-mail me directly at schultz@ucalgary.ca

  2. #12
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    Stan,

    I can sort of understand where you're coming from with your post, but I think you need to clarify some of your comments. They are vague enough to be interpreted in a number of ways, some of which could be construed as bordering on offensive.

    I am, of course referring in particular to point 3 above. "The results he publishes are subject to rigorous, scientific, peer review processes and are published in recognized scientific journals....,etc.". Having been with the BTS (amost) from the beginning I have to say that I doubt that the hobby would be anywhere near what it is today without us. It should also be recognised that amateur does not equate to poor - merely unpaid for the work they do and consequently passionate. Yes, there have been some dubious papers over the years, but I'm also pretty certain (coming from a scientific background) that this happens elsewhere too, not just amongst arachnologists.

    I'm not certain I would describe the BTS Journal as a newsletter - it is what it says it is; a journal. It is also sent to the majority of the important recognised institutions and libraries throughout the world and has been for the majority of it's existence. When you refer to 'recognized scientific journals' - recognised by whom? Where precisely do you perceive the BTS Journal to fall within the list of publication-types you referred to? In the vast majority of cases, papers describing new species are peer reviewed, so I am not entirely sure what the problem is.

    In my opinon, historically amateur arachnologists have done an immense amount for the science of arachnology. If, as you suggest in point 4, that the scientific community is sitting up and taking notice, we have seen precious little of it in real terms. Otherwise, the BTS Overseas Research Grant would be completely unnecassary!

    Brent is a great guy and a good friend to many of us here at the BTS; we wholeheartedly support his work (along with anyone else who is carrying out valuable work on either a professional or an amateur basis).

    Having said all of the above; if this is absolutely not what you meant, then I am happy to apologise. However, some clarification is definitely required here - a number of people have approached me regarding this.

  3. #13
    Stanley A. Schultz's Avatar
    Stanley A. Schultz is offline Stan Schultz Marguerite J. Schultz Co-authors, the TARANTULA KEEPER'S GUIDE
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Kirk View Post
    Stan,

    I can sort of understand where you're coming from with your post, but I think you need to clarify some of your comments. They are vague enough to be interpreted in a number of ways, some of which could be construed as bordering on offensive. ...
    You are, of course, correct on all counts. The problem is what you didn't say. For instance, that a large proportion of the species names we rely on so heavily were created during an era about a century ago when an arachnologist's research grant depended almost solely on the number of new species names he generated and who he named them after! Or, that peer review is still, in the 21st century, not required for valid publication of scientific identifications.

    And, not only did I not mention the BTS (I wouldn't if for no other reason than that I fully recognize the service and function it performs), I didn't mention or criticize ANY formal organization. It's the loose cannons that I have an issue with. The dealer, for instance, who insists that "species 'A' is really species 'B,' but the paper hasn't been published yet." The person who has been breeding tarantulas for twenty years and thinks that makes him a taxonomist. The armchair biologist who firmly believes that every color form of some species is really a different species.

    And while there are a number of amateur arachnologists who regularly turn out reliably good papers and have developed an international reputation for the fact, they are largely outnumbered by the masses of ignorati to the point where they no longer want to be considered "enthusiasts."

    No. My criticisms stand. I said what I meant, and I meant what I said. But please don't read more into them than what's in black and white on your computer screen.

    And make no mistake, I of all people certainly didn't intend the dissertation as an offense to the BTS, or any other organization, nor to anyone who is doing real science in arachnology.



    We had to get rid of the kid.
    The tarantula was allergic.
    The Tarantula Whisperer!
    Stan Schultz
    Co-author, the TARANTULA KEEPER'S GUIDE
    Private messaging is turned OFF!
    Please E-mail me directly at schultz@ucalgary.ca

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