History of Psychopathy as “defined” in the DSM / WOW!

WOW! So much of this history of “how to classify human beings” is about judging people who are considered to be FAILURES at LIFE (bottom of the social pyramid) by the standards of a group of arrogant SOBs (top of the social pyramid), without regard to the ‘unlucky” circumstances of birth; the environment, economic disaster, and social oppression-manipulation committed by the “true” socio-psychopaths at the top of the social hierachy. This system is de facto RACIST and predatory; class-based  and culturally anti-human in concept. 


Psychopathy and the DSM

FULL PAPER: http://www.sakkyndig.com/psykologi/artvit/crego2014.pdf

Cristina Crego and ThomasA. Widiger University of Kentucky


Psychopathy is one of the more well-established personality disorders. However,its relationship with the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has been controversial. The purpose of this article is to trace and discuss the history of this relationship from the very first edition of the DSM to the current fifth edition. Emphasized in particular is the problematic relationship of DSM antisocial personality disorder with the diagnosis of psychopathy by Cleckley (1941,1976) and the Psychopathy Checklist- Revised (Hare,2003), as well as with the more recently developed models of psychopathy by Lilienfeld and Widows(2005), Lynametal (2011), and Patrick, Fowles and Krueger(2009).

Psychopathy is perhaps the prototypic personality disorder. The term psychopathy within Schneider’s (1923) nomenclature referred to all cases of personality disorder. The term now refers to a more specific variant: Psychopaths are social predators who charm, manipulate, and ruthlessly plow their way through life….(recognize the “true” successful predators in American life – ? Our “leaders”…) Completely lacking in conscience and feeling for others, they selfishly take what they want and do as they please, violating social norms and expectations without the slightest sense of guilt or regret. (Hare, 1993, p. xi)

Nevertheless, the construct of psychopathy has had a troubled, and at times controversial, relationship with the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The purpose of this article is to trace and discuss this history from the very first edition of the DSM to the current fifth edition.

PSYCHOPATHYAND DSM-I As suggested by Hare (1986), Patrick (2006a), and many others, the most influential description of psychopathy was provided by Cleckley (1941, 1976).  Cleckley (1941) provided a diagnostic list of 21 features, eventually reduced by Cleckley (1976) to 16.  Cleckley’s (1941) seminal text on psychopathy preceded the first edition of the APA (1952) nomenclature by about 10 years. It is not clear, though, how much specific impact Cleckley’s formulation had on DSM-I, as the latter was based on a number of alternative descriptions that were present at the time (Millon,2011). However, it is evident that there was a considerable degree of overlap and congruence. DSM-I included a “sociopathic personality disturbance” (APA, 1952, p. 38), one variation of which was the “antisocial reaction.” These persons were said to be “chronically antisocial,” and to profit neither from experience nor punishment. They maintained no real loyalties to any person or group and were “frequently callous and hedonistic, ”with a lack of a  sense of responsibility.” As expressed in DSM-I, “the term includes cases previously classified as ‘constitutional psychopathic state’ and ‘psychopathic personality’ ” (APA, 1952, p. 38).

PSYCHOPATHYAND DSM-II The description of DSM-II’s (APA, 1968) “antisocial personality” was somewhat expanded and perhaps closer to Cleckley (1941), indicating that these persons were “grossly selfish, callous, irresponsible, impulsive, and unable to feel guilt or to learn from experience and punishment” (APA, 1968, p. 43), along with being “repeatedly into conflict with society” (p. 43), having low frustration tolerance, and having a tendency to blame others for their problems. It is perhaps noteworthy that it was further specified that “a mere history of repeated legal or social offenses is not sufficient to justify this diagnosis” (p. 43).

PSYCHOPATHYAND DSM-III A significant shift occurred with DSM-III (APA, 1980). Prior to DSM-III, mental disorder diagnosis was notoriously unreliable, as it was based on clinicians providing an impressionistic matching of what they knew about a patient (on the basis of unstructured assessments) to a narrative paragraph description of a prototypic case. No specific or explicit guidelines were provided as to which features were necessary or even how many to consider (Spitzer, Williams, & Skodol, 1980). Spitzer and Fleiss (1974) reviewed nine major studies of inter-rater diagnostic reliability. Kappa values for the diagnosis of a personality disorder ranged from a low of .11 to .56, with a mean of only .29. DSM-II (APA, 1968) was blamed for much of this poor reliability, along with idiosyncratic clinical interviewing (Spitzer, Endicott, & E. Robins, 1975). Feighner et al. (1972) developed specific and explicit criterion sets for 14 mental disorders. As expressed recently by Kendler, Muñoz, and Murphy (2010), “the renewed interest in diagnostic reliability in the early 1970s—substantially influenced by the Feighner criteria—proved to be a critical corrective and was instrumental in the renaissance of psychiatric research witnessed in the subsequent decades” (p. 141). Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) was the only personality disorder to be included within the influential Feighner et al. list. Antisocial’s inclusion in Feighner et al. (1972) was due largely to L. Robins’s (1966) systematic study of 524 persons who had been seen 30 years previously at a child guidance clinic for juvenile delinquents. Robins was studying what she described as a “sociopathic” personality disorder that she aligned closely with Cleckley’s (1941) concept of psychopathy. “It is hoped that Cleckley is correct that despite the difficulties in terminology and definition, there is broad agreement on which kinds of patients are psychopaths, or as we have designated them, ‘subjects diagnosed sociopathic personality’ ” (L. Robins, 1966, p. 79). Despite her intention or hope of being closely aligned with Cleckley (1941), there are notable differences in her 19-item list. On the positive side, Robins did not include some of the unusual or questionable items of Cleckley (Hare & Neumann, 2008), such as no evidence of adverse heredity and going out of the way to make a failure of life. (? !) Robins also included a number of key Cleckley traits, such as no guilt, pathological lying, and the use of aliases. However, missing from Robins’s list were no sense of shame, not accepting blame, inability to learn from experience, egocentricity, inadequate depth of feeling, and lacking in insight. In addition, the Robins list contained quite a bit of what was perhaps nonspecific dysfunction, such as somatic complaints, suicide attempts (or actual suicide), drug usage, and alcohol use problems (albeit some of this was also in the description by Cleckley, 1941). It is also important to note that most of Robins’s items were accompanied by quite specific requirements for their assessment. For example, poor marital history required “two or more divorces, marriage to wife with severe behavior problems (? !), repeated separations”; repeated arrests required “three or more non-traffic arrests”; and impulsive behavior required “frequent moving from one city to another, more than one elopement, sudden army enlistments, [or] unprovoked desertion of home” (L.Robins,1966,p.342). The only exception was perhaps lack of guilt, which was inferred on the basis of the “interviewer’s impression from the way in which patient reports his history” (L. Robins, 1966, p. 343), and, not coincidentally, Robins suggested that lack of guilt was among the least valid criteria due in large part to poor reliability of its assessment. The 19-item list from Robins (1966) was substantially reduced by Feighner et al. (1972) to nine items. Relatively weak items were dropped (e.g., heavy drinking, excessive drug usage, somatic symptoms, and suicide). However, notably absent as well was lack of guilt. Pathological lying and aliases were collapsed into one item. Each of the items was again accompanied by relatively specific criteria for their assessment. The Feighner et al. (1972) criteria were subsequently revised for inclusion within the Research Diagnostic Criteria of Spitzer, Endicott, and E. Robins (1978), and then revised again for DSM-III (APA, 1980). Dr. Robins was a member of the DSM-III personality disorders work group. The nine items in DSM-III were conduct disorder (required), along with poor work history, irresponsible parent, unlawful behavior, relationship infidelity or instability, aggressiveness, financial irresponsibility, no regard for the truth, and recklessness (APA, 1980). It is again worth noting that each criterion had relatively specific requirements. For example, recklessness required the presence of “driving while intoxicated or recurrent speeding” (APA, 1980, p. 321), and relationship infidelity required “two or more divorces and/or separations (whether legally married or not), desertion of spouse, promiscuity (ten or more sexual partners within one year)” (APA, 1980, p. 321). The major innovation of DSM-III was the inclusion of the specific and explicit criterion sets (Spitzer et al., 1980). DSMIII ASPD became the “poster child” within the personality disorders section for the success of this innovation. All of the personality disorders, including those with highly inferential diagnostic criteria, could be assessed reliably when aided by the presence of a semi structured interview (Widiger & Frances, 1987). However, in the absence of a structured interview, the clinical assessment of personality disorders continued to be unreliable, with one exception: ASPD (Mellsop, Varghese, Joshua, & Hicks, 1982; Spitzer, Forman, & Nee, 1979). Concurrently with the development of DSM-III, however, was the development of the Psychopathy Checklist (PCL) by Hare (1980), “the conceptual framework for the ratings being typified best by Cleckley’s (1976) The Mask of Sanity” (p. 111).“We wished to retain the essence of psychopathy embodied in Cleckley’s work” (Hare, 1986, p. 15). Hare worked from the 16-item list of Cleckley, administering them to 143 prison inmates. Hare (1980) acknowledged, consistent with the view of L. Robins (1966), that “some of these criteria seem rather vague and require a considerable degree of subjective interpretation and difficult clinical inference” (p. 112). Hare (1980) constructed a 22-item checklist on the basis of the16-item Cleckley (1976) list. Hare’s (1986) 22-item PCL was aligned much more closely with Cleckley’s list than the DSM-III.

For the rest of the paper:



Links to Papers, Articles / Evolution of Female Pelvis

Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2015 Mar 5; 370(1663): 20140063.

doi:  10.1098/rstb.2014.0063

PMCID: PMC4305164

The evolution of the human pelvis: changing adaptations to bipedalism, obstetrics and thermoregulation


The fossil record of the human pelvis reveals the selective priorities acting on hominin anatomy at different points in our evolutionary history, during which mechanical requirements for locomotion, childbirth and thermoregulation often conflicted. In our earliest upright ancestors, fundamental alterations of the pelvis compared with non-human primates facilitated bipedal walking. Further changes early in hominin evolution produced a platypelloid birth canal in a pelvis that was wide overall, with flaring ilia. This pelvic form was maintained over 3–4 Myr with only moderate changes in response to greater habitat diversity, changes in locomotor behaviour and increases in brain size. It was not until Homo sapiens evolved in Africa and the Middle East 200 000 years ago that the narrow anatomically modern pelvis with a more circular birth canal emerged. This major change appears to reflect selective pressures for further increases in neonatal brain size and for a narrow body shape associated with heat dissipation in warm environments. The advent of the modern birth canal, the shape and alignment of which require fetal rotation during birth, allowed the earliest members of our species to deal obstetrically with increases in encephalization while maintaining a narrow body to meet thermoregulatory demands and enhance locomotor performance.


Science. 2008 Nov 14;322(5904):1089-92. doi: 10.1126/science.1163592.

A female Homo erectus pelvis from Gona, Ethiopia.

Quade J, Levin NE, Butler R, Dupont-Nivet G, Everett M, Semaw S.

Department of Anatomy, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, OH 44106-4930, USA.


Analyses of the KNM-WT 15000 Homo erectus juvenile male partial skeleton from Kenya concluded that this species had a tall thin body shape due to specialized locomotor and climatic adaptations. Moreover, it was concluded that H. erectus pelves were obstetrically restricted to birthing a small-brained altricial neonate. Here we describe a nearly complete early Pleistocene adult female H. erectus pelvis from the Busidima Formation of Gona, Afar, Ethiopia. This obstetrically capacious pelvis demonstrates that pelvic shape in H. erectus was evolving in response to increasing fetal brain size. This pelvis indicates that neither adaptations to tropical environments nor endurance running were primary selective factors in determining pelvis morphology in H. erectus during the early Pleistocene.

PMID:19008443 DOI: 10.1126/science.1163592


Osteoarthritis – a consequence of evolution?

T. Hogervorst


For Homo sapiens, the female pelvis is the single skeletal element that conveys information about the two most peculiar traits of human evolution. These are upright gait and an ultra-large brain. It shows both the adaptations that occurred to facilitate a permanent bipedal gait, and at the same time the adjustments required to accommodate the birth of a large-brained foetus.7,8 Using such an evolutionary perspective, two human hip disorders can be considered – FAI and DDH. Both feature frequently in current orthopaedic practice.

The Prologue

DNA evidence dates the shared ancestor of chimpanzees and humans to approximately between six and seven million years ago.9 Since then extensive changes have occurred in the pelvis (Fig. 2) and, by comparison, the morphological changes in the hip have been quite minor. The last 50 years have yielded spectacular fossil finds that have helped map hominid evolution. The restructuring of the pelvis is best described as a compacting of the pelvis, with transition from a nearly two-dimensional to three-dimensional form.

The main feature of this compacting8 has been a marked shortening of the ilium, while the sacrum enlarged in all dimensions and came lower to lie opposite the pubis. The result has been a bony birth canal that can cause trouble during childbirth. In addition, the sacrum moved forward (ventrally) and tilted, while the lumbar spine lengthened. The number of lumbar vertebrae increased, from three or four in the chimpanzee to five, sometimes six, in Homo sapiens.This facilitated the development of a lumbar lordosis, thereby positioning the spine more centrally and bringing the centre of gravity of the upper body closer to the hip joints in the sagittal (lateral) plane.

The human ilium may have become shorter, but it also arches further forward (ventrally), creating prominent anterior superior iliac spines. This forward-arching ilium repositions the gluteal muscles over the hip joint. In the large apes (orang-utan, chimpanzee, gorilla) these muscles are almost entirely posterior to the hip joint, which is why they function mainly as hip extensors. Meanwhile, human gluteal muscles are posterior, directly above and anterior to the hip joint, making them true hip abductors.

Early human ancestors (hominids) first began walking upright and only later developed a large brain. Evidence for this comes from Australopithecus afarensis of 3.2 million years ago, that was well-adapted to a permanent upright gait11 but still had a body and brain size similar to a chimpanzee.7 In the subsequent three million years, body size approximately doubled while brain size tripled. This brain enlargement thus happened when the pelvis, in evolutionary terms, had already undergone extensive restructuring to facilitate a true upright gait. There had also been a remarkable elongation of the lower limbs.

From approximately three to 0.5 million years ago only anteroposterior deepening of the pelvis appears to have taken place through relative growth of the pubic bones while the relative width of the pelvis decreased. This may be because of the importance of an efficient abductor mechanism for the now permanent bipedal gait of early humans. To keep required abductor work within limits, the lever arm of bodyweight should also be kept within limits.12 Indeed, the distance between the midline of the pelvis and the centre of the femoral head has been said to be larger for human females than males.13

A large foetal brain and long legs may present serious problems at childbirth. Today’s rate of Caesarean section is approximately 20% in developed countries.14 Meanwhile, obstetric problems have never been documented in the large apes.15 Nevertheless, difficulties with childbirth are not exclusive to humans, as bovids and smaller primates such as the macaque are known to have birthing problems.


Suspicious Websites / Online Mental Health “Help”

bz DUCK 10-27-10

Anyone who has read more than a few of my posts knows that I stress the profit-making base of the “caring industry,” especially those who claim that their studies, surveys, conclusions, treatment, advice, and expertise are evidence based and scientifically valid, but when accessing these sites, one soon notices the use of non-provable claims like “world renowned” “most recommended by doctors” “most satisfied readers” “number one in visits” “voted most helpful” which refer to nothing at all. Facts are absent.

Academic credentials of the writers of articles are hard to pin down and often have nothing to do with legitimate mental health experience or university degrees. Low level journalists, or even anonymous volunteers, who are eager to “contribute,” are the ones reviewing supposed studies, papers and scientific reports of “researchers” who just happen to have a self-help book for sale on the site. Articles are accompanied by a blizzard of advertising for books, services, therapists, counselors, psychology gurus, referrals to psych websites – a maze of commercially driven opportunities. Many sites claim to be non-profits (IRS approval is all that’s needed) with heart-tugging pleas for donations and a handy donate button available for instant contributions.

Finding where donated money goes may be possible, but the trail is usually circuitous, leading back to the site and it’s self-promoting text – nothing specific, just claims of “helping” needy people. Finding the owner of the website can be tough but enlightening: the entire enterprise may consist of a single person and a “board of directors” or advisors often composed of a relative, a business buddy, and – yes, the “journalists” who write for the website and have materials for sale there. Terribly disconcerting is the fact that prominent news vendors – top newspapers and magazines – print the self-promoting propaganda published by these websites verbatim in their news articles. Wow! So much for journalistic integrity!

The following disclaimer from a site, which is heavily trafficked by those seeking information and advice on autism, provides a BIG WARNING.


Please be cautious about accepting any advice you might receive. The quality of advice varies tremendously, and there is no way to verify either the credentials or the competence of anyone posting…. Those who self-treat based upon information posted…do so at their own risk. Moderators are not responsible for any direct, consequential, or other damages resulting from information or misinformation posted…. Moderators do not check articles for accuracy, nor do they guarantee or warrant the information provided…for any specific purpose or use. No warranties, expressed or implied, are made.





Who is the type of “Homo sapiens”? / Surprise!

Carl Linnaeus, 23 May 1707 – 10 January 1778: The lectotype of Homo sapiens.  Designated by Professor William Stearn in 1959 (Swedish National Museum, Stockholm).

What can I say? Aye, yai, yai! 

A system of nomenclature instituted 257 YEARS AGO, and based on European white male racism, arrogance, and cultural bigotry IS STILL USED by “modern” scientists? REALLY? 

lec·to·type (lĕk′tə-tīp′) n.

A biological specimen or other element that is selected as the type specimen when a holotype was not originally designated. Linnaeus did not designate a specimen as the holotype (a single type specimen upon which the description and name of a new species is based) for Homo sapiens. Linnaeus has been designated as the lectotype. 



Who is the type of Homo sapiens?

by David Notton and Chris Stringer

In Linnaeus’ 10th edition of Systema Naturae (Linnaeus, 1758) he named four geographical subspecies of Homo sapiens: europaeus, afer, asiaticus and americanus, introducing some anecdotal behavioural distinctions in line with then current European notions about their own superiority. For example while europaeus was, of course, ‘governed by laws’, americanus was governed ‘by customs’, asiaticus ‘ by opinions’, and the African subspecies afer ‘by impulse’.  While not wishing to revisit such dubious notions here, one continuing issue over Linnaeus’ naming of Homo sapiens remains a topic of discussion: the designation of a type specimen. What follows is our view of the nomenclatural issues, and the appropriate designation.

The type specimen of Homo sapiens is Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778). In Linnaeus’ 10th edition of Systema Naturae (Linnaeus, 1758) which is taken to be the starting point of zoological nomenclature, he described Homo sapiens including 6 named subgroups, i.e. ferus, americanus, europaeus, asiaticus, afer and monstrosus. Ferus and monstrosus are infrasubspecific because the content of the description shows that ferus is used for feral children, those found in the wild, differing only as a consequence of their upbringing, and monstrosus is used for a mix of unrelated forms (part a) and people with modifications of the body due to human artifice (part b). Consequently ferus and monstrosus are not available names and do not enter into zoological nomenclature. This leaves as available names americanus, europaeus, asiaticus, and afer, which are subspecific names of Homo sapiens (Article 45.6). Also from the principle of coordination there must be a subspecific name sapiens, and the type of Homo sapiens is by definition the type of the subspecies Homo sapiens sapiens (Article 43).
Linnaeus did not designate a type for Homo sapiens or any of its nominal subspecies – that was not the custom then. However, the type series consists of all the specimens he included (Article 72.4) according to the characters given in his descriptions. The description of Homo sapiens is drawn broadly; it spreads over five pages, starting with

1. H[omo] diurnus; varians cultura, loco. Then describing the 6 subgroups, continuing with the general description from the end of the description of monstrosus to page 24, from Habitat inter Tropicos to Pedes Talis incedentes. The description for Homo sapiens sapiens is all the parts of the description that do not include the named subgroups and similarly the type material is all those specimens included by Linnaeus, not including those referred to under the named subgroups (Article 72.4.1).

It is certain that Linnaeus was present when he wrote this description and that he regarded himself as included in Homo sapiens. That he is not part of any of his subgroups is clear from the descriptions, in particular he is certainly not part of  Homo sapiens europaeus since this subspecies is described as ‘Pilis flavescentibus, prolixis. Oculis caeruleis’ (long yellow hair and blue eyes) whereas Linnaeus has brown hair and eyes (Tullberg, 1907). He is therefore included in the type series of Homo sapiens sapiens (Article There was, however, no single person recognised as the type until 1959, when Professor William Stearn, in a passing remark in a paper on Linnaeus’ contributions to nomenclature and systematics wrote that Linnaeus himself, must stand as the type of his Homo sapiens. This was enough to designate Linnaeus as a lectotype (Article 74.5), the single name bearing type specimen for the species Homo sapiens and its subspecies Homo sapiens sapiens.

From a practical point of view the designation of Linnaeus as lectotype is of limited value, since there is no doubt over the identity of the species Homo sapiens. (???) For the same reasons there is no exceptional need for the designation of a neotype. His remains are not lost (the tomb is in Uppsala Cathedral in Sweden), but it would be unethical to disturb them and anyway there is no need for them to be re-examined in order to establish the application of this name. However, it is symbolic that Linnaeus as the father of modern taxonomy should have been designated.

It is important to be clear about the type status of Linnaeus because there have been misapprehensions about who the type is, which cause confusion. For example, the story that Edward Cope is the type. This error deserves little attention except that it has been given credence on the internet and by some popular science journalists, so it is worth briefly explaining why it is wrong. In a book about dinosaurs published in 1994, Louie Psihoyos reported a proposal by Bob Bakker to designate Cope as a lectotype for Homo sapiens. The proposal was never actually published by Bakker, but was reported by Psihoyos in sufficient detail to serve as a designation in its own right. Psihoyos’ designation was invalid because:

  • Cope was not eligible for selection as a lectotype because he wasn’t among the specimens/people included by Linnaeus when he made his description (Article 74.1) – Homo sapiens was described in 1758 but Cope wasn’t born until 1840, almost 100 years later, so he definitely wasn’t included by Linnaeus.
  • Stearn’™s valid designation in 1959 already existed before Psihoyos’ designation in 1994 and no designations after Stearn’s can be valid (Article 74.1.1).

So it is absolutely clear Cope never could be a lectotype. For a more detailed explanation see the excellent paper by Spamer (1999).

ICZN is supported by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, National University of Singapore (Company Registration No. 200604346E).
ICZN is an Associate Participant to the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) & a Scientific Member of the International Union of Biological Science (IUBS).



Does DNA Predate Life? / Earth, Ceres Dawn Mission


DNA could have existed long before life itself

THE latest twist in the origin-of-life tale is double helical. Chemists are close to demonstrating that the building blocks of DNA can form spontaneously from chemicals thought to be present on the primordial Earth. If they succeed, their work would suggest that DNA could have predated the birth of life.

DNA is essential to almost all life on Earth, yet most biologists think that life began with RNA. Just like DNA, it stores genetic information. What’s more, RNA can fold into complex shapes that can clamp onto other molecules and speed up chemical reactions, just like a protein, and it is structurally simpler than DNA, so might be easier to make.

After decades of trying, in 2009 researchers finally managed to generate RNA using chemicals that probably existed on the early Earth. Matthew Powner, now at University College London, and his colleagues synthesised two of the four nucleotides that make up RNA. Their achievement suggested that RNA may have formed spontaneously – powerful support for the idea that life began in an “RNA world”.

Powner’s latest work suggests that a rethink might be in order. He is trying to make DNA nucleotides through similar methods to those he used to make RNA nucleotides in 2009. And he’s getting closer.

Nucleotides consist of a sugar attached to a phosphate and a nitrogen-containing base molecule – these bases are the familiar letters of the genetic code. DNA nucleotides, which link together to form DNA, are harder to make than RNA nucleotides, because DNA uses a different sugar that is tougher to work with.

Starting with a mix of chemicals, many of them thought to have been present on the early Earth, Powner has now created a sugar like that in DNA, linked to a molecule called AICA, which is similar to a base (Journal of the American Chemical Society, doi.org/h6q).

There is plenty still to do. Powner needs to turn AICA into a base, and add the phosphate. His molecule also has an unwanted sulphur atom, which helped the reactions along but now must be removed. Nevertheless, a DNA nucleotide is just a few years away, says Christopher Switzer of the University of California, Riverside. “It’s practically a fait accompli at this point.”

That could have important implications for our understanding of life’s origins. Prebiotic chemists have so far largely ignored DNA, because its complexity suggests it cannot possibly form spontaneously. “Everybody and his brother has been saying ‘RNA, RNA, RNA’,” says Steven Benner of the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution in Gainesville, Florida.

Conventional wisdom is that RNA-based life eventually switched to DNA because DNA is better at storing information. In other words, RNA organisms made the first DNA.

If that is true, how did life make the switch? Modern organisms can convert RNA nucleotides into DNA nucleotides, but only using special enzymes that are costly to produce in terms of energy and materials. “You have to know that DNA does something good for you before you invent something like that,” Switzer says.

He says the story makes more sense if DNA nucleotides were naturally present in the environment. Organisms could have taken up and used them, later developing the tools to make their own DNA once it became clear how advantageous the molecule was – and once natural supplies began to run low.

“Organisms could have used naturally occurring DNA, then developed the tools to make their own”

Early organisms must have scavenged for materials in this way, says Matthew Levy of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. “The early Earth was probably a bloody mess,” he says, with all manner of rich pickings on offer.

Powner suggests another alternative. Life may have begun with an “RNA and DNA world”, in which the two types of nucleotides were intermingled. Powner’s co-author Jack Szostak, of the Harvard Medical School, has shown that “mongrel” molecules containing a mix of DNA and RNA nucleotides can perform some of the functions of pure RNA (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doi.org/bj8r97). Powner suggests that life started out using these hybrid molecules, gradually purifying them into DNA and RNA.

Benner says it makes more sense for the first life to have used pure DNA and RNA as early as possible. Both work better than the mongrel molecules.

Right now, though, there’s nothing to tell us exactly how and when life first used DNA. “It almost becomes a choose-your-own-adventure game,” says Levy.



Dawn (mission) discovers evidence for organic material on Ceres (Update)

Ceres is the largest object in the asteroid belt that lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Its diameter is approximately 945 kilometers, making it the largest of the minor planets within the orbit of Neptune. Wikipedia

February 16, 2017
Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-02-scientists-geology-ceres.html#jCp

NASA’s Dawn mission has found evidence for organic material on Ceres, a dwarf planet and the largest body in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Scientists using the spacecraft’s visible and infrared mapping spectrometer (VIR) detected the material in and around a northern-hemisphere crater called Ernutet. Organic molecules are interesting to scientists because they are necessary, though not sufficient, components of life on Earth.

 The discovery adds to the growing list of bodies in the solar system where organics have been found. Organic compounds have been found in certain meteorites as well as inferred from telescopic observations of several asteroids. Ceres shares many commonalities with meteorites rich in water and organics—in particular, a meteorite group called carbonaceous chondrites. This discovery further strengthens the connection between Ceres, these meteorites and their parent bodies.

“This is the first clear detection of organic molecules from orbit on a main belt body,” said Maria Cristina De Sanctis, lead author of the study, based at the National Institute of Astrophysics, Rome. The discovery is reported in the journal Science.

Data presented in the Science paper support the idea that the organic materials are native to Ceres. The carbonates and clays previously identified on Ceres provide evidence for chemical activity in the presence of water and heat. This raises the possibility that the organics were similarly processed in a warm water-rich environment.

Significance of organics

The organics discovery adds to Ceres’ attributes associated with ingredients and conditions for life in the distant past. Previous studies have found hydrated minerals, carbonates, water ice, and ammoniated clays that must have been altered by water. Salts and sodium carbonate, such as those found in the bright areas of Occator Crater, are also thought to have been carried to the surface by liquid.

“This discovery adds to our understanding of the possible origins of water and organics on Earth,” said Julie Castillo-Rogez, Dawn project scientist based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Where are the organics?

The VIR instrument was able to detect and map the locations of this material because of its special signature in near-infrared light.

The organic materials on Ceres are mainly located in an area covering approximately 400 square miles (about 1,000 square kilometers). The signature of organics is very clear on the floor of Ernutet Crater, on its southern rim and in an area just outside the crater to the southwest. Another large area with well-defined signatures is found across the northwest part of the crater rim and ejecta. There are other smaller organic-rich areas several miles (kilometers) west and east of the crater. Organics also were found in a very small area in Inamahari Crater, about 250 miles (400 kilometers) away from Ernutet.


NASA “SPACE SOUNDS” for Halloween / COOL!

NASA’s Halloween playlist is eerie, strange, and unnerving

Want to spook your trick-or-treaters tonight? NASA has you covered. The space agency has put together the ultimate Halloween playlist, a compilation of creepy sounds picked up as radio emissions from satellites and spacecraft instruments throughout the universe, Space.com reports. Squealing howls, unnerving staccato pulses, and the eerie rush of ghostly winds will give your candy seekers wide eyes, raised arm hair, and a ratcheted heart rate. Take a listen, if you dare.

Depictions of Mammoths before and after sufficient evidence was found

I kind of wish that such a ridiculous beast actually existed – rather charming, even if preposterous.  

Copy of an interpretation of the “Adams mammoth” carcass from around 1800, with Johann Friedrich Blumenbach‘s handwriting

Remains of various extinct elephants were known by Europeans for centuries, but were generally interpreted, based on biblical accounts, as the remains of legendary creatures such as behemoths or giants. It was also theorised that they were remains of modern elephants that had been brought to Europe during the Roman Republic, for example the war elephants of Hannibal and Pyrrhus of Epirus, or animals that had wandered north. The first woolly mammoth remains studied by European scientists were examined by Hans Sloane in 1728 and consisted of fossilised teeth and tusks from Siberia. Sloane was the first to recognise that the remains belonged to elephants.

Sloane turned to another biblical explanation for the presence of elephants in the Arctic, asserting that they had been buried during the Great Flood, and that Siberia had previously been tropical prior to a drastic climate change. Others interpreted Sloane’s conclusion slightly differently, arguing the flood had carried elephants from the Tropics to the Arctic. Sloane’s paper was based on travellers’ descriptions and a few scattered bones collected in Siberia and Britain. He discussed the question of whether or not the remains were from elephants, but drew no conclusions. In 1738, the German zoologist Johann Philipp Breyne argued that mammoth fossils represented some kind of elephant. He could not explain why a tropical animal would be found in such a cold area as Siberia, and suggested that they might have been transported there by the Great Flood. In 1796, the French anatomist Georges Cuvier was the first to identify the woolly mammoth remains not as modern elephants transported to the Arctic, but as an entirely new species. He argued this species had gone extinct and no longer existed, a concept that was not widely accepted at the time.

When excavated, this mammoth was almost intact and retained skin, muscles, and innards. It was found in 1900 at the Berezovka River, a tributary of the Kolyma.
see also: http://www.donsmaps.com/bcmammoth.html

Mummified Steppe Bison from 43,000 ya during a warm period, Kenai Peninsula. Displayed at University of Alaska Museum of the North


Ape Evo / Graecopithecus freybergi / Azmaka Bulgaria Hominids


An excellent example of the geosciences applied to controversial questions concerning evolution of hominids. Awe-inspiring!  

Messinian age and savannah environment of the possible hominin Graecopithecus from Europe


Dating fossil hominids and reconstructing their environments is critically important for understanding human evolution. Here we date the potentially oldest hominin, Graecopithecus freybergi from Europe and constrain the environmental conditions under which it thrived. For the Graecopithecus-bearing Pikermi Formation of Attica/Greece, a saline aeolian dust deposit of North African (Sahara) provenance, we obtain an age of 7.37–7.11 Ma, which is coeval with a dramatic cooling in the Mediterranean region at the Tortonian-Messinian transition. Palaeobotanic proxies demonstrate C4-grass dominated wooded grassland-to-woodland habitats of a savannah biome for the Pikermi Formation. Faunal turnover at the Tortonian-Messinian transition led to the spread of new mammalian taxa along with Graecopithecus into Europe. The type mandible of G. freybergi from Pyrgos (7.175 Ma) and the single tooth (7.24 Ma) from Azmaka (Bulgaria) represent the first hominids of Messinian age from continental Europe. Our results suggest that major splits in the hominid family occurred outside Africa.


For “objections to” the notion that the origin of “humankind” could have taken place outside Africa: 


Note: The insistence of an “either Europe (or Asia) or Africa” as the “home” of humankind is so social typically irrational. Silly! It’s not like archaic apes had a map of the continents with political-geographic boundaries printed on it, with instructions like, “Evolution is forbidden to occur on both sides of this body of water; no fair “living in the vicinity of” (in the region surrounding this feature). Not recognizing “socially designated” boundaries will confound and disturb future neurotypicals and cause bizarre arguments.”


Chameleons, Camouflage and Selfies / Revised

Female Aspergers are often described as “Chameleon-like” in the propensity to take on the psychic and behavioral aspects of a social environment in order to (at least temporarily) hide in plain sight. This supposedly accounts for the common undiagnosed-state of female Aspies.

This is a gross misunderstanding of what Chameleons actually “do.”

Male Chameleons change to bright colors (red-yellow) to stand out against a natural green-brown environment. They are “showing off” in a mating display or other communication.

This obviously is not a correct analogy to the real or imaginary attempt by some female Aspergers to blend into the social scene.

Camouflage in it’s active form in Homo sapiens is a male specialty.


Modern humans have developed camouflage predominantly as a predatory strategy in military actions or in hunting. A vast (and extremely serious) subculture exists that promotes and supplies camo gear for use by civilians and professionals. Business is booming!

Camouflage has become a cult fashion bonanza: Pepto-Pink is mandatory for girls, which defeats the function of camouflage, unless one is trapped in the Pink Hell of American female fashion.  

So what are Asperger females doing to survive Neurotypical Social Hell?

(Do you really think that we would tell anyone?)




20 Top Military Nations Ranked / Business Insider




in lavender…


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