I was impressed with those details in Vatta's War, because so often people get just the little veterinary things wrong. Your vet sounds like a nice guy! As for dragons, I would expect the details of reproduction to depend on the type -- most depictions of dragons show something with a lizard-type lineage. ;-)
I'm a veterinarian, but my speciality is laboratory animal medicine. I can help with ophthalmology and neurology, and the exotic species, but not the everyday reproductive stuff.
I'm glad you enjoyed the post. We have wonderful vets. The ones I called were originally large & small animal, and I first used Woody for my horse. He's had various partners over the years but they've all been really neat people. When they gave up large animal practice (sigh!) I found a good equine vet, but she doesn't have his sense of humor.
Dragons--well, I'm sure you know that some lizards are parthenogenic (including some native to Texas.) But that's too easy. Gender-reverse that. Now consider a social structure that, though dispersed, is rather like gender-reversed ants or bees: one reproductively competent male for a number of non-reproductive males whose tasks include raising the next generation. Even that much borders on apoilerish, but there's another few specific details in my story "Judgment" (found in both _The Dragon Quintet, and my collection Moon Flights) about what happens when the wrong people get hold of a dragon's egg.
Dragons--or one dragon--reappeared in the new group of books, to my complete surprise (and that of the characters, who were sure all dragons had been banished aeons ago.) But other wrong people got hold of another dragon's egg...
Yes, and then if you consider amphibians or fish, you end up with much more fluid gender assignments, if you will. Michael Crichton used that as a bug in Jurassic Park, and it would be interesting, to say the least, if dragons also had these issues.
I'm off to dig up my copy of Moon Flights -- it's been too long since I read it. :-)
Oh, lord, fish...I remember Sylvia...what _was_ her last name? The ichthyologist? Who did the research in the Red Sea that found if the male of a school was killed one of the females would transform into a male. And then it was found elsewhere.
Dragons don't have those issues (correction: my dragons in these stories don't have these issues.) It all goes back to a story that was never finished, let alone published, that I wrote after finishing the first draft of the original Paks book...which told me a fair bit about the kind of dragons that I'd develop, in the course of a book about a mercenary and her wizard friend.
Dragons can...appear as other than dragons, though. So there's a fluidity, but not in gender.
Loved this post (and the blog). As a ANSC major, one of the more interesting classes was Mammalian Repro. I do wish I had it the next semester (they got to choose some of the species that they studied and had some doozys). I didn't know that AI was taking off in dogs but it makes some sense (not as much as elephants but ...).
If you do call about dragons, please put a transcript up!
Edited at 2010-01-26 04:57 pm (UTC)
I had no idea how much AI had taken off in dogs, either. When I took Dairying, years ago, we were taken on a field trip to see AI being done with a herd of dairy cows and I have friends who both used some AI on their ranch and sold some straws of their best bull's elsewhere--and right up the road is one of the first ranches in this region to do embryo transplant. I knew some breeds of horses used AI. So in the Serrano/Suiza books, I was clear about how it worked for livestock-type animals, and what the markets were like, and what some drawbacks were. (The whole inbreeding thing--the popular sires end up siring huge numbers of offspring, around the world in some cases, so those offspring have fewer potential mates. It's acute in some dairy breeds that aren't as popular now--we knew that even in my Dairying class for the "small breed" dairy cattle in this country.)
But dogs? I thought the dogs themselves were still shipped around, as some horses must be (Thoroughbreds can't be AIed and be registered, QH can.) And yet...yup. Dogs. It was after I'd written the book that I ran across an online venue where someone who had desirable dogs was talking about getting her young male tested and his sperm sent off, and how she waited for some other male's sperm to arrive and worried about delays in the shipping, etc. I'd still have called my vet to check, probably, but it was interesting to hear it from her side.
The way to deal with excessive inbreeding/progeny is limit the number of registerable foals from a stallion in a year (which would be good with some of the non-AI horses ... I recall reading that some really populat stallions like Alydar would do Spring/early Summer here, get shipped to Australia and do that Spring/early Summer). For the breeds that allow cloning, limiting the clones/year would be a good idea as well. That would slow the spread of bad genes that might not be detected/figured out right away (HYPP for example).
I still think it is really cool that they can collect from a wild animal in the wild and use the semen in captive populations to keep the genetic diversity up and I wonder how much it is used. I also wonder how good the dog must be to deal with AI. Now I'm wondering if they are doing AI with swine yet ... the extension is an issue for them. Hopefully they will figure out how to freeze some critters fairly soon (e.g. Gao who is in LA is incredibly valuable genetically to the captive Giant Panda population but only has 1 mate).
The good thing about freezing for something like cattle is that you can test the first several crops of a reasonably small size for quality and problems before allowing the animal to be used extensively and NOT risk losing him for other reasons.
Yeah--I remember when getting the right extender for horses was a problem--the assumption having originally been that what worked for cattle would work for horses.
Personally--I wouldn't want to collect a boar. Or a cat...ick. (OK, let's be honest--I've never collected anything, though I've observed.)
I can see both sides of the Jockey Club not allowing AI--it ensures stallions have a minimum physical strength and also somewhat limits the numbers--but it is safer for both stallion and mare. Embryo transfer--not a bad idea either if you have a good performance mare.
But that's a long topic, and I'm in a rush right now.
There is a section in one of the later Herriot books in which James has his first try at collection from a bull. I nearly had abdominal cramps from laughing. So did Tristan, which made it even funnier for me.
I remember that! Yes...oh, my, oh, my.
It was after that, that we moved up here, and made friends with E and J, who run the ranch our cows are now on, and I became much more knowledgeable about the whole thing with cattle, including bull plastic surgery for ads in the various breed magazines. But I suspect any more on THAT topic will require me to label this comment as adult content.
I see you understand me...(wicked grin)
Or at least, you grasp the concept.
Prior to actual surgery, and before the ready availability of digital photography, some ads were doctored by the old cut and paste of actual photos...one particularly famous bull of a certain breed had been tummy-tucked (so to speak) with a patch of grass and clover--identifiable to the exact patch--cut from another copy of the same print and pasted, not too expertly, onto the version sent to the breed magazine.