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Old 12-21-2018, 07:20 PM   #236
Originally Posted by Mitchell Mulks View Post
First, let me say to everyone, I have no dog in this race.

I'm simply sharing with all of you my thoughts on the topic. It's been a long day, I just finished with work, it's 2AM and I should go to sleep, but I thought this was important enough to where I wanted to chime in.

First, the tone from multiple posts regarding Joe's classified ad seems really negative. Yes, while Joe might have a non-stellar BOI thread regarding past transactions of his, my experiences with him have been the exact opposite. Every animal and every transaction I've had with Joe has been nothing but top notch. His animals are superb, the genetics exquisite, and his customer service superb. Now, I know nothing of how Joe has handled others in this industry, but I can contest to how he and I have done business, and it's been exemplary. I just wanted to share with all of you my experiences with Joe, as my collection, and my time with corns has only benefited through my interactions with Joe.

Second, and most importantly, why do so many corn keepers laugh off the possibility that the tessera gene might have hybrid origins? Correct me if I'm wrong (please do!), but my understanding of the origins of the tessera gene began with a classifieds ad of some weird looking stripe or pinstripe motley corns. The animals on the ad were not being listed for some ridiculous price. Only when KJ bred the animals that he purchased that he realized that the gene might be dominant and that this might be a new corn gene. I don't think that anything in Joe's claims is directly attacking anyone, nor does it seem that he's claiming the originators of the tessera gene purposely duped any of us. I thought he was just suggesting that the gene has hybrid origins.

I ask all of you this, which of these two seems the most likely and probable: 1) a brand new corn snake gene arises out of nowhere in a classifieds ad, or 2) the F3 or F4 generation of a well-documented hybrid (the jungle corn) more closely resembled the corn snake lineage rather than the king snake side of things, and was listed as a corn by a breeder that simply wanted to move his or her animals. For me I put more credence in the latter. In a really nice post on the other corn snake forum there are some absolutely stunning photos of F1 hybrids between striped Cal kings and corn snakes, and F2 super corns (75% corn/25% striped cal king). The F2 super corns, besides the shape of the head, could easily pass as tesseras. The stripe gene of the cal king is dominant in it's inheritance. Furthermore, the lateral segments of the F2 hybrids mirrors the tesselated pattern of tesseras. I would post the photos I have saved to my desktop, but Photobucket seems to hate me right now and keeps sending me to a Beta site; not allowing me to use the site options. Regardless, by the F4 generation, the majority of the genome would be corn and all the offspring could easily pass as corn snakes.

Secondarily, the hybrid markers that Joe points out should not be so easily dismissed. I've spent the last decade of my collegiate career investigating the heritable components of the aposematic pattern of the California mtn kingsnake. Part of my graduate work involved a large-scale breeding study where I purposely bred subspecies of the CA mountain kingsnake to one another. Even between subspecies there were noticeable hybrid markers in the ventral patterns of the offspring. Because cal kings and corns do share a common ancestor, but have evolved in separate directions for millions of years, it should be expected that sister chromosomes heterozygous for each parental species should produce a multitude of phenotypes. This is exactly what you see in tessera hatchlings; in particular the ventral patterns of tessera offspring. In every other corn snake morph you see a single ventral pattern, in tessera offspring (within a single clutch) the patterns can range from patternless ventral surfaces to highly checkered. Multi-phenotypic ventral patterns such as those seen in tessera clutches are incredibly consistent with the hypothesis of a hybrid origin. The heterozygous genome of a hybrid at pattern-forming loci do not function like evolutionarily selected species-specific genes, therefore it should not come as a surprise that intense phenotypic variation should occur in hybrid offspring (i.e., the multitude of ventral patterns within a single clutch of tessera vs. the checkered ventral pattern of any other corn snake clutch). Evidence strongly supports the hybrid theory instead of the "pure corn snake" theory if you consider the genomic development of tessera offspring.

As I said, I have no dog in this race. I keep tessera, and I love them. I love the patterns associated with the tessera gene. Additionally, I don't think the origin of the tessera gene was done with any sort of malicious intent. However, I do believe tesseras are the result of a striped cal kind and corn snake hybridization. As much as I love the the concept of a pure corn, all of the evidence points to tesseras arising from a hybrid event. I wish I could post the photos of an F1 jungle corn where the cal king used was a striped corn. Even in the F1 generation of jungle corns they highly resemble tesseras. Within four generations almost all of the morphological markers (i.e. snout shape, etc.) of the cal king would be bred out and only the cal king dorsal pattern would remain. People love hybridizing snakes, and the hybridization of corns and kings has been occurring for decades. Why is it so improbable that one of the more common colubrid hybridizations (corn x cal king), a hobbyist hybridization that's been occurring for decades, has led to one of the most unique and "out-of-the-blue" corn snake pattern mutations? Almost all of us tire of feeding and keeping hatchlings that don't sell. Why does it seem so improbable to so many corn hobbyists that the original tesseras, purchased from a random classified ad, wasn't the result of a jungle corn breeder that was tired of feeding corn-resembling hybrids that he or she simply wanted to be rid of? How is that option not the most likely when compared to the possibility that a brand new dominant gene simply popped up out of nowhere in the pages of the corn snake classifieds? As much as I love my pure corns, logic and common sense tells me that the origins of the tessera gene involve a little bit of a cal king pattern gene.

Lastly, for everyone that thinks the prices that Joe is asking for his tessera are extremely low, I simply ask you to re-evaluate how you're looking at the pricing of any and all tessera morphs. First, the tessera morph is a dominant gene. With recessively inherited genes you need two snakes, each of which carries a copy of the gene in order for 1/4 of the progeny to phenotypically exhibit the mutation in question. However, with a dominant gene like the tessera gene, only one of the breeders needs to carry the gene and half of the offspring are expected to express the gene phenotypically. It's commonplace for dominant genes to take a serious nose-dive in value once established breeding colonies exist in the herp trade; simply because 1/2 the breeders are necessary to produce the morph and twice the number of hatchlings exhibit the mutation. It makes sense that lasting high prices of tessera morphs are simply unrealistic. Think about this, it's easier to produce tesseras than it is to produce amels. In addition, if you're trying to produce tesseras you can expect twice as many tesseras than amels too! In reality very soon a run-of-the-mill tessera should be very cheap to buy (I see $40-$50 within two years) while only the brand new tessera morph combos should hold any value.

So, I guess in summary, while it might be instinctual for all of us to quickly dismiss the idea that one of your newest and coolest morphs might have come about because of hybrid breedings, it should in fact be considered with much legitimacy. Regardless of Joe's past dealings, I don't think what he proposes is without merit, but in fact I believe it to be the most probable and logical of hypotheses. Just because someone might have a checkered past doesn't mean what they propose should be taken any less seriously than any other idea presented by those in the corn snake world. Furthermore, even if the origin of the tessera gene does result from a hybrid event, it doesn't mean we have to devalue our love and admiration of the morph! I know I love my tesseras, and even though I do believe they are the direct result of a hybrid event, it doesn't devalue them in my mind at all.

I guess I ask all of you to simply look at all the evidence, and if you do so non-biased, it seems to me that all the evidence (historical, morphological, developmental, and genetically) supports tesseras arising from a hybrid event rather than a brand new dominant gene popping up out of nowhere in a classified ad.

Boy, do I really wish Photobucket wasn't sucking at the moment! Also, my defense of Joe and his belief is of my own belief, not because of any conversation I've had with him since this thread has gone up (as I haven't spoken to Joe in months).

Anyhow, thanks for reading my thoughts, and I hope all of you the best. Regardless of it's origins, tesseras are here to stay.

Thank you Mitch!

I do not believe Corn Snake Genes can spontaneously mutate on without Human intervention, or deception.

Who sold KJ, the original 2.1 Tesseras? Was he a nobody, who couldn't offer us any information even if KJ could remember who he was?

What if the person he bought them from was John Albrecht?

Was there collusion to hide the history of Tesseras purchased on

What is the definition of a Hybrid Marker?

What Does "No Hybrid Markers" mean to you?