Originally posted by SLAYER69
First I think we need to do away with once and for all the notion that Neanderthal was simply an apish brute. This apparently has been carried over from the Early days of Darwinism. It seems that many in the academic European circles were trying to find the "Missing Link" and unfairly Neanderthal was shoe horned into that possible link. He has often been portrayed as a dumb lumbering oaf.
Actually, there was a legitimate reason for this. The original 'type specimen' for Homo neanderthalensis turns out to have been an arthritic elderly individual. This wasn't recognized immediately, which led to the long-standing (and flat-out incorrect) assumption that Neanderthals were hunched over, sluggish, and well the stereotypic "cave man".
An interesting aside that came out of this, however, is that as this and other elderly, injured, and/or diseased Neanderthal skeletons were discovered it became clear that these 'brutes' must have cared for the weaker members of their society, which implies fully developed empathy.
Because of Neanderthal shoulder physiology (they can't throw overhand, to state it simply), they had to hunt and fight large game up close, with underhand thrusting motions. Because of this, it is rare to find a Neanderthal skeleton that does not exhibit signs of massive (yet, in most cases healed) trauma.
It's interesting to consider that these physical specimens who cared for their sick and injured were out-competed by an invading species (us) for possibly as simple a reason as that we could throw overhand and thus hunt from a distance, leading to much lower incidence of traumatic injury during food procurement. This is speculative, of course, but the evidence is leaning in the direction of the 'sapiens advantage' simply being a more advanced culture and that we simply 'out-tech'ed' them.