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Both had very similar anatomy to modern great apes.These two lineages survived the major climate changes that marked the end of the Miocene, while the many other Eurasian ape species became extinct.Virchow described it as the skeleton of a diseased Cossack cavalryman.And even once the antiquity of the remains was established, many scientists refused to accept that Neandertals could be closely related to modern humans, depicting them instead as brutish and apelike.More recent Ardepithecus ramidus remains are dated at 4.4 million years.That all these species existed so close to the origin of hominids suggests that even then our family tree could be described as bushy, rather than having the single linear progression from species to species that is so often presented in images of human evolution.Darwin was remarkably prescient when he wrote, in 1871 "The Descent of Man", that humans had evolved in Africa and were closely related to the great apes (gorilla, chimpanzee, and orang-utan).But at that time this view was anathema to many, since the majority of people still accepted the concept of special creation. Rather than accept the fossil as the remains of a human ancestor, the distinguished German scientist R.

The descriptions of (in 2002) have added to our knowledge of this period in our history.Interestingly, the data also raise the possibility that the two new species may have hybridised for some time after their initial separation (Patterson et al. Its discoverers place it in the hominid family tree, and describe it as bipedal.This suggests that bipedalism in hominids evolved very early indeed.The scientist Ernst Haeckel, for example, was convinced that humanity's nearest common ancestor was the orang-utan, and that humans evolved in Asia.Though wrong in this, he was a persuasive writer and many people came to accept his view.

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would be better placed in Australopithecus - an example of how rapidly our understanding of our evolutionary past is changing, and of the reviews, discussion and disagreements that characterise scientific research.