Ramapithecus & Sivapithecus
Ramapithecus (left) lived from about 14 to 8 million years ago. Fossilised remains have been discovered in Northern India and in East Africa from 1932 onwards.
Although it was generally an apelike creature, Ramapithecus shows some signs of development, although a complete jaw discovered in 1976 ruled out any chance of it being part of hominid ancestry (hominids being members of the human family tree after the split from the ape side of the tree). Ramapithecus is now regarded by many as a member of the genus Sivapithecus, and therefore an ancestor of the orang-utan.
Still walking mainly on all fours, Sivapithecus (right) flourished at the same time as Ramapithecus, mainly between 12.5 million years to 8.5 million years ago. This species was one of those which left Africa after the continental plates collided, and over the course of about three million years it made its way into South Asia. The first finds of this species were in the Indian sub-continent in the nineteenth century
It was about the size of a chimpanzee but had the facial morphology of an orang-utan. It ate soft fruit (detected in the pattern of dental wear) and was probably mainly arboreal.
Later finds of Sivapithecus have led experts to consider it and Ramapithecus as being either one species (perhaps male and female types) or very closely related and perhaps only briefly divided before the time of the earliest fossilised find.