A lot of research on Neanderthals has popped up lately.
A reconstruction of fetal and infant Neanderthals (picture of the natal Neanderthal here) finds that Neanderthals developed at either the same rate as us or even more slowly, increasing in size quickly as infants but possibly not reaching sexual maturity until later than modern humans. According to one quote, if humans were able to reproduce 1% more often than Neanderthals, we could effectively outbreed them in a (relatively) short matter of time.
And just in case you're certain your father-in-law must have some Neanderthal lineage, one study of mitochondria DNA from Neanderthals has found that there is no mixing of Neanderthals and modern humans.
Speaking of distant relatives, a group found that chimps could tell when their friends needed hugs, and in doing so lowered their friend's stress levels. While this behavior has been shown before, the researchers are saying this is the first time they could show that chimps recognized their friends' stress and were empathetic to help.
Also, anthropologists on an island near the homo floresiensis site found bones dating from the same time that were normal human size. Does this mean that the Hobbit was a deformed freak? Who knows.