The biological classification of the species more commonly known as the Neanderthal.

Homo neanderthalensis lived from 150,000 to 30,000 years ago; to give you some scale, Cro-Magnon men, who were the earliest form of modern humans, lived about 35,000 years ago.

Having acclimated to the weather in Europe during the Ice Age,Homo neanderthalensis was extremely muscular and robustly built, and it was fairly short in height. Examination of bones found suggest that it was regularly involved in heavy labor. Their skulls were big and made for chomping. Their jaws required so much muscle to work, they had this lobe made of bone on the back of their skull called an occipital bun that projected out in order to offer more surface area for muscle. Their brain was even bigger than ours, weighing in at a hefty 1500 cc (our brains are about 1400 cc). Don't worry, we have a better brain-to-body-weight ratio, so we're smarter anyway.

They are certain to have made tools, buried their dead, and may have even had some form of symbolic language. Though the vast majority of fossils indicate a larynx that is fairly undeveloped, and therefore they lacked the ability to speak very well, at least one fossil shows a larynx that is just as developed as ours.

Homo neanderthalensis has several enigmas surrounding it: Could it interbreed with humans? Was it of an entirely different species? Had it evolved parallel to humans, being an offshoot of our ancestors, or could we have even descended from it? What ultimately happened to Homo neanderthalensis?

On the last, there are two major schools of thought: either we, Homo sapiens, killed Homo neanderthalensis off, or we breeded with it, thereby incorperating its line into ours.

The first is a very distinct possibility, since they and us resided in the same area and ate the same food, and therefore we would have had to compete for survival. If this is the case and it came down to a fight, we may have won it for a few reasons. Firstly, we were smarter. Though they had tools and skillz, we had better tools and skillz. Secondly, some have speculated that Homo sapiens reproduced faster than Homo neanderthalensis, and therefore had the advantage of numbers. The idea of an interspecies war like this is extremely interesting and intriguing: think about it; when else in history have two fairly sentient species battled to the death?

The second has been supported by fossil finds recently that seem to suggest a Homo sapiens-Homo neanderthalensis hybrid, however if this truly is the case is uncertain. Some analyses of DNA from Homo sapiens have lacked Homo neanderthalensis genes, which is a point against this theory. At any rate, if the two did interbreed, then people today of European ancestory may have some Neanderthal in them.