Typically conjured up as the typical “cavemen”, this species was initially considered genetically, morphologically and behaviourally distinct from Homo sapiens. We now know different.
Around 2% of our modern human genetic material is derived from Neanderthal. In other words, there was some interbreeding with Homo sapiens.
What’s more, contrary to earlier beliefs, Neanderthals are likely to have possessed the capacity for complex communication, including speaking. They also developed an advanced tool technology, and more importantly, used nonutilitarian artefacts, such as jewellery and even basic musical instruments. They also engaged in simple cave art, buried their dead, and possibly used medicine.
Despite being remarkably adapted to cold climates, Neanderthals completely disappear from our records around, or just before the most recent glacial maximum.