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40 Thousand Skeletons

Do you believe Preston Jacobs' explanation for dragon riding?

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Preston Jacobs: Genetics of War and Dragons

I basically stopped posting on this forum after becoming a Preston Jacobs convert, so to speak. His series on Targaryen genetics fully convinced me that he was at least right about why certain people can ride dragons (and others can't), and it made me respect him a lot more and give all his other videos a second chance. My conclusion was that PJ is correct about 95% of the time (as far as I can tell), and I feel like a fool for not listening to him sooner on so many things.

But for the sake of this topic, I just want to ask everyone, do you believe PJ's explanation for dragon riding? I recommend watching at least the first video in that playlist (link above), but I will summarize here: dragon riding ability is basically an X-chromosome linked genetic disorder. You need 1 "dragon-X" gene to ride a dragon, and 2 "Dragon-X" genes to hatch dragons (so only females can hatch dragons). Following simple Mendelian genetics, this means that male dragon riders have a 100% chance to pass along the ability to any daughters and a 0% chance to pass it on to sons. Female dragon riders with only a single "dragon-X" gene have a 50% chance to pass it on to any child, and female dragon hatchers with 2 "dragon-X" genes (like Rhaenyra) have a 100% chance to pass on the gene.

There is a ton of evidence for this, but I think the strongest point is that we have a character named Septon Barth who was focused on studying the breeding on dragons. GRRM seems to be alluding to Mendel, who was similarly a scientist monk who studied the breeding of peas. And "Barth's syndrome" is a real world X-chromosome linked genetic disorder.

What are your thoughts? I am curious what people think, especially if you have never heard this theory before.

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It's intriguing, but removes the need for the book in Old Town and doesn't explain what Aegon V was doing in Summerhall.  Nor does it explain why other people in the past 150 years were unable to hatch any dragons. i know he tries to assign a gene to every Targaryen born to make his idea work, but the idea that no one but Danerys had 2 Dragon-X genes in 150 years just seems too unlikely. Not to mention the sacrifice at Drogo's pyre played in the role of Dany hatching her dragons or that the dragons died off as they were birthed weaker.

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I'll eat my pinky finger if it is correct.

 

Matrilineal descent - maybe.

Chromosomes - no.

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29 minutes ago, 40 Thousand Skeletons said:

Preston Jacobs: Genetics of War and Dragons

I basically stopped posting on this forum after becoming a Preston Jacobs convert, so to speak. His series on Targaryen genetics fully convinced me that he was at least right about why certain people can ride dragons (and others can't), and it made me respect him a lot more and give all his other videos a second chance. My conclusion was that PJ is correct about 95% of the time (as far as I can tell), and I feel like a fool for not listening to him sooner on so many things.

But for the sake of this topic, I just want to ask everyone, do you believe PJ's explanation for dragon riding? I recommend watching at least the first video in that playlist (link above), but I will summarize here: dragon riding ability is basically an X-chromosome linked genetic disorder.

OK.

In that case, nope.

Time - saved. (GRRM doesn't write a story about Mendelian inheritance and X-chromosome disorders. GRRM writes a story where "gold always yielded before coal". Preston suffers - or profits, I don't know - from a compulsion to overcomplicate things).

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I am unable to watch the video at present, but the obvious hole is the existence of male dragonriders without known Targaryen matrilineal ancestry. I suppose Alicent Hightower could theoretically be descended from a Valyrian noblewoman who married into Reach nobility at some point, but Marilda of Hull and the mothers of the other dragonseeds seem unlikely.

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2 hours ago, WalkinDude said:

It's intriguing, but removes the need for the book in Old Town and doesn't explain what Aegon V was doing in Summerhall.  Nor does it explain why other people in the past 150 years were unable to hatch any dragons. i know he tries to assign a gene to every Targaryen born to make his idea work, but the idea that no one but Danerys had 2 Dragon-X genes in 150 years just seems too unlikely. Not to mention the sacrifice at Drogo's pyre played in the role of Dany hatching her dragons or that the dragons died off as they were birthed weaker.

PJ has another theory on the book in Old Town that I think is legit, but I don't want to derail the topic. Summarized: Jaqen killed Pate and took the master key to read the book to impress Marwyn with his knowledge about dragons to get into Marwyn's inner circle in order to gain access to the glass candle. So there is at least one reasonable explanation for the book that is totally compatible with this theory.

What is your explanation for Summerhall? I'm legit curious, and I don't think this theory needs to explicitly explain Summerhall to be true.

It very specifically explains why other people in the past 150 years were unable to hatch dragons. In fact, I think this is one of the strongest points of the theory. I have never heard another credible explanation for this.

Can you tell me exactly what role sacrificing Drogo played? Did it do anything? Was it a placebo? We don't really know.

Dragons dying off as they were being born weaker is a generalization made by book characters, and PJ does touch on this in the videos.

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3 hours ago, Ferocious Veldt Roarer said:

OK.

In that case, nope.

Time - saved. (GRRM doesn't write a story about Mendelian inheritance and X-chromosome disorders. GRRM writes a story where "gold always yielded before coal". Preston suffers - or profits, I don't know - from a compulsion to overcomplicate things).

I would like to see your evidence that GRRM doesn't write a story about Mendalian inheritance and X-chromosome disorders. There are people with webbed hands and feet in the story. Genetics is presented as a key part of the story in book 1 as you pointed out, and "gold always yielded before coal" at least with a limited sample of one family line going back only 3 centuries, is scientifically sound with Mendelian genetics and black hair being dominant over blonde in real life. Tyrion and Maelys the Monstrous are chimeras (2 people fused into 1 in the womb). And GRRM is in fact a sci-fi writer. And again, Barth's syndrome is an X-chromosome linked disorder, so I think you are telling me that GRRM picked that name by total coincidence, which I find hard to believe. I simply disagree that PJ over complicates things, but I used to think the exact same thing about him before I saw the light.

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1 hour ago, Lady Lia said:

I am unable to watch the video at present, but the obvious hole is the existence of male dragonriders without known Targaryen matrilineal ancestry. I suppose Alicent Hightower could theoretically be descended from a Valyrian noblewoman who married into Reach nobility at some point, but Marilda of Hull and the mothers of the other dragonseeds seem unlikely.

I disagree that that is a hole. If dragon riding is X-chromosome link, those genes could be in a lot of people, including for instance any random Lyseni commoner with their Valyrian origins. PJ does talk specifically about Alicent Hightower and points out that the Hightower plan of changing the heir to Aegon would be unlikely to succeed unless Alicent could birth a male dragon rider. Additionally we know the Hightowers have Valyrian features, which is pretty telling.

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24 minutes ago, Ferocious Veldt Roarer said:

Oh, I didn't know that. Could you elaborate, please?

Sure!

As PJ points out, we are given the physical descriptions of 2 Hightowers. Alerie Hightower is silver-haired and handsome, and she is younger than her husband Mace Tyrell, so her silver hair is probably not due to old age. Lynesse Hightower looks like Dany, according to her husband Jorah.

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14 minutes ago, Aegon825 said:

If genetics would play any role in ASoIaF, Daenerys would look like this.

Thanks for giving me a heart attack, that's the first time this happened to me in this forum. I should have expected that. Damn links.

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tryed to watch the videos but couldn't make it throught the first video for how wrong it is.....

it only takes a quick wiki dive to see the whole theory is wrong. I mean there have been males targs that have hatched dragon eggs so it can't be a female only thing. a bigger in world problem for this is Jon will ride a dragon but if you believe this theory there is zero chance of that because he could only get that gene from having a targ mother. but Preston Jacobs doesn't believe Jon to be Rhaegars son he believes Dany is which why this theory doesn't work.

this theory is design around that one flawed idea

a dany that is the mad kings daughter is the product of at least 4 generatoins of in breeding, she shares something like 75 to 80+ persent of her genes with her parents. there's nothing new in her make up to make her a speaicl egge hatcher but a Dany born of R+L she woulf have the warg x gene. but would mean no male stark would be a warg but to fix this he makes Cat family have the warg x gene too.......   the whole thing gives me a headache... it honestly could only work if you completely rewrite the story.

in the end I can tell you GRRM is not sitting there doing punnett squares or thinking about genetics when he comes up with characters. he writes a story that is interesting even his sci-fi have little to do with any real world genetics understanding so I don't see him doing that for a magic filled world.

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If A, B, and C need to be "assumed" for X, Y, and Z to work, that's not a good theory. Or any theory that only works if another theory is "assumed".

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I like Preston's videos and I thoroughly enjoyed this theory.

Having said that though... there are a lot of holes in this theory, and even though he does a pretty good job coming up with possible explanations for these, the evidence for it is rather thin and based on a lot of conjecture. For example, the Hightowers are explained to have the Valyrian look, and therefore are possible carriers of the dragon-X gene because Jorah says Lynesse kinda looks like Daenerys, which could also be explained by Jorah now having a thing for Daenerys (Jorah: the original pedobear). Plus, her hair is golden blonde, not platinum blonde like the Targs have. His second reason is that Alerie Hightower, Mace Tyrell's wife, cannot possibly have grey hair at around age 40, which is plain not true. My father was grey before he was 25. It is especially more likely for your hair to turn grey early if your hair is blonde, like the Hightowers according to Preston all have from these two examples.

He also claims the dragon-X gene came back in the Targ-family after being lost when Daeron II had only sons by Egg marrying... a Blackwood?! Apparently the Blackwoods and the Starks and the Farwynds and other wargs will be able to ride dragons as well. Still, we only ever hear of Valyrians being able to (maybe Gylbert Farwynd did on his travels beyond the Sunset Sea... GYLBERT KING! GYLBERT KING!).

And even if you're not a Targ, you riding a dragon can always be explained away by 'Nettling' it, as he explains his believes that Quentyn survived and rode Viserion. Even though it took Nettles a long time to get the dragon to trust her enough, Quentyn can apparently do it instantly. And no, it's not because he got the dragon-X gene through Dornish Daenerys. Preston specifically says that is not possible. Still, with all the potential dragonriders in the story he might have gotten one from his mother. She was from a former Valyrian colony after all...

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3 minutes ago, Dex drako said:

tryed to watch the videos but couldn't make it throught the first video for how wrong it is.....

it only takes a quick wiki dive to see the whole theory is wrong. I mean there have been males targs that have hatched dragon eggs so it can't be a female only thing. a bigger in world problem for this is Jon will ride a dragon but if you believe this theory there is zero chance of that because he could only get that gene from having a targ mother. but Preston Jacobs doesn't believe Jon to be Rhaegars son he believes Dany is which why this theory doesn't work.

this theory is design around that one flawed idea

a dany that is the mad kings daughter is the product of at least 4 generatoins of in breeding, she shares something like 75 to 80+ persent of her genes with her parents. there's nothing new in her make up to make her a speaicl egge hatcher but a Dany born of R+L she woulf have the warg x gene. but would mean no male stark would be a warg but to fix this he makes Cat family have the warg x gene too.......   the whole thing gives me a headache... it honestly could only work if you completely rewrite the story.

in the end I can tell you GRRM is not sitting there doing punnett squares or thinking about genetics when he comes up with characters. he writes a story that is interesting even his sci-fi have little to do with any real world genetics understanding so I don't see him doing that for a magic filled world.

Frankly, and I really don't mean to sound rude, but you have a lot of certainty and little evidence.

Males apparently hatching dragons can be explained by twin sisters or mothers hatching the eggs. there are a couple points in the theory that directly support this, e.g. eggs that are not around hatchers not hatching.

"Jon will ride a dragon" --- that sounds great, I can't wait to see it.

"the whole thing gives me a headache..." --- sorry to hear that

He is obviously thinking about genetics with at least one major character, Tyrion, who has 2 different colored eyes. And again, the entire main plot thread of AGOT, Joffrey's parentage, is fundamentally about genetics.

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9 minutes ago, KingMance said:

If A, B, and C need to be "assumed" for X, Y, and Z to work, that's not a good theory. Or any theory that only works if another theory is "assumed".

A fair point, but I would counter that PJ used the word "assume" for the sake of the first video. His "assumption" is really a hypothesis, which is then supported by the text, just like every good theory. There is a ton of evidence presented in his videos that dragon riding is X-chromosome linked.

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1 hour ago, 40 Thousand Skeletons said:

I disagree that that is a hole. If dragon riding is X-chromosome link, those genes could be in a lot of people, including for instance any random Lyseni commoner with their Valyrian origins. PJ does talk specifically about Alicent Hightower and points out that the Hightower plan of changing the heir to Aegon would be unlikely to succeed unless Alicent could birth a male dragon rider. Additionally we know the Hightowers have Valyrian features, which is pretty telling.

Not all that many people. Valyrian blood is common, but only a minority of Valyrians were dragonriders, and most of them were in Valyria when the Doom hit. And Lynesse and Alerie's appearance, if related to Valyrian blood at all, can equally well be explained by the later marriage of Rhaena Targaryen into House Hightower.

The argument about the Hightowers plan is circular. Alicent having Valyrian ancestry is required to support the theory of matrilineal inheritance, and you're using the theory of matrilineal inheritance (as understood by the Hightowers) to support Alicent having Valyrian ancestry. There's no problem with the plan if you assume that either parent can pass the gene down.

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6 minutes ago, 40 Thousand Skeletons said:

And again, the entire main plot thread of AGOT, Joffrey's parentage, is fundamentally about genetics.

Yes, it's about made-up fantasy-land genetics that have little resemblance to the real thing.

 

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