Homo sapiens have a tendency to look down on other kinds of humans. We survived so, clearly, we were superior.
The word neanderthal not only refers to the extinct species but to someone considered to be particularly rude, brutish or uncouth.
However the reality may have been different. Scientific evidence suggests neanderthals cared for one another, looking after injured family members.
They are also thought to have held burial rituals, made cave paintings, and even used the penicillium fungus, the natural antibiotic from which penicillin is derived, and poplar bark, which contains salicylic acid, used in aspirin and other painkillers, as forms of medicine.
New reconstructions of neanderthals showing what they would have looked like in modern settings – by experts at Dundee University – could perhaps help popular imagination catch up with the changing message conveyed by such research.
And we should remember that, while they died out as a distinct species about 40,000 years ago, they still live on in us all, making up a fiftieth of the average modern human’s DNA.