News A statue depicting a Neanderthal. Scientists have discovered that Neanderthal genes passed on to modern humans could affect our likelihood of developing auto-immune diseases.

The likelihood of people developing diseases including type two diabetes and Crohn's could be affected by genes inherited from Neanderthals

Time lapse : Yabba-dabba-doo?

The Flintstones was the first ever primetime television cartoon. It premiered at 8.30pm on 30 September, 1960 on the ABC network in the US. The rest, as they say, is prehistory. There were six TV series in all, which are still being rerun around the world, and now Hollywood is trying to recreate the old magic once more. Its first attempt, with John Goodman as simple-minded Fred Flintstone (above centre), was slated by the critics as a "Yabba-dabba-don't" but it still went on to be the blockbuster of summer 1994, grossing more than pounds 150m worldwide. Still in production but due for release next year is The Flintstones: Viva Rock Vegas, starring Mark Addy (above right) of Full Monty fame. This is a prequel to the previous film and sees Fred and fiancee Wilma Slaghoople head off for a romantic weekend in Rock Vegas with fellow sweethearts Barney and Betty, only for Wilma to be wooed by millionaire playboy Chip Rockefeller ...

Musical bones were world's first instruments

A SET of bird bones with holes drilled in them have turned out to be the world's oldest playable musical instruments, dating back nearly 9,000 years.

Prehistorical Notes: Homo erectus - `a dim-witted fellow'?

THE GREAT thing about human prehistory is that it changes at such a rapid pace. If it's the thrill of the new that you want, the relics of our distant ancestors are certainly a better bet for excitement than the music industry or the literary scene. Genuinely new waves in the arts are few and far between, and the froth whipped up instead is a poor substitute. It is extremely rare to encounter an artistic work which makes the world look really different. Yet the shape of the prehistoric world will bend almost as one watches it, and dramatic discoveries are announced every few months.

Science: The Neanderthal in all of us

He was only four when he died - 25,000 years ago. But his skeleton has triggered a furious debate among scientists over the origins of modern man. Did our Cro-Magnon ancestors interbreed with the much-maligned Neanderthals?

Stone Age `factory' is found in East Anglia

ARCHAEOLOGISTS have discovered remarkable evidence of early human industrial activity in East Anglia - dating back 400,000 years.

Wyman goes wild for ancient stones

THE IRONY was irresistible. In Northumberland Bill Wyman, the former Rolling Stone, was becoming excited about prehistoric stones, and an hour away the fossilised set he is more commonly associated with were preparing for their latest reincarnation.

Letter: Life's a beach

Sir: This week a front-page article about the sins and dangers of stealing pebbles from Britain's beaches ("Now it's the take-away beach", 29 May); the previous Saturday Christopher Hirst was suggesting we collect pebbles from Chesil Beach, a nationally protected area ("Back to the stone age", 22 May). Charlie Dimmock can't take all the blame!

Design: Back to the stone age

From lamps to linoleum, the pebble is the new `rock' star. By Christopher Hirst

The Guillotine: Twentieth-Century Classics That Won't Last - No 16: Rene Clair

Film history has always had its own history and, even if there now does exist a canon of sorts, discoveries are still possible, reassessments and re-evaluations seem to be made on an almost annual basis, and certain artists whose niche in the pantheon had seemed for ever secure find themselves ignominiously ousted from it.

Barometer: Nice Neanderthals

It may be a popular term of abuse, but "Neanderthal" derives, of course, from the type of primitive hominid whose remains were first discovered in the Neander valley, Germany, in 1856. Ever since, we've thought that the Neanderthals were unrelated to us humans. But just look at this reconstruction of Neanderthal domesticity provided by the Natural History Museum. Flintstones-like, the scene has much resonance for Homo sapiens, with its quarrelling juveniles and Mr Neanderthal's garment of choice, a tasselled suede jacket.

Letter: Ban GM imports

Sir: Steve Connor ("Stone age people modified crops", 18 March) uses the term "genetic modification" in such a way that it loses all meaning.

Stone Age people modified crops

ONE OF the earliest experiments in genetic engineering took place about 7,500 years ago and resulted in the first corn on the cob. Scientists have retraced steps taken by Stone Age farmers who created the first maize crop from a Mexican wild grass using a sophisticated process of genetic selection.

Psychological Notes: The Stone Age mental toolbox we inherit

THE HUMAN brain is an extraordinary organ. It has allowed us to walk on the moon, to discover the roots of matter and life, and to play chess almost as well as a computer. But this virtuosity raises a puzzle. The brain of Homo sapiens achieved its modern form and size between 50,000 and 100,000 years ago, well before the invention of agriculture, civilisations and writing in the last 10,000 years. Our foraging ancestors had no occasions to do astrophysics or play chess, and natural selection would not have rewarded them with more babies if they had. How, then, did our outsize, science-ready brain evolve?

Ancient Britons left trail of secret Picassos of Stone Age left

IT IS a visual language lost to us. Are they boundary signs? Are they religious warnings? Are they maps?
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