hypothetical extinct creature halfway in the evolutionary line between modern human beings and their anthropoid progenitors. In the latter half of the 19th century, a common misinterpretation of Darwin's work was that humans were lineally descended from existing species of apes. To accept this theory and reconcile it with the hierarchical "great chain of being," some fossil ape-man or man-ape seemed necessary in order to complete the chain. Pithecanthropus erectus (now Homo erectus),Eoanthropus dawsoni (the "Piltdown man" later discovered to have been a hoax), and even the modern Khoikhoi (then called Hottentots) of southern Africa (when newly discovered) were suggested as the missing link. Today it is recognised that man's relationship to the present anthropoid apes (e.g., chimpanzees) is through common ancestors rather than through direct descent. These ancestors have yet to be identified, but ape-hominid divergence may have occurred 6 million to 10 million years ago.
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