On this day in 1908 the first relatively complete skeleton of a Neanderthal was found buried in a cave in France. The individual whose skeleton was found was in old age when he died and suffering from severe osteoarthritis. This along with the biases of the scientist who originally reconstructed the skeleton helped to bolster the early view of Neanderthals as slouching, ape-like, and unintelligent.
Since then research has revealed much more about what Neanderthals were really like and has shown that they were far more intelligent and more like humans, both in appearance and abilities, than we once thought. They may have buried their dead, fashioned tools, used pigments for decoration, and might even have had the ability to talk to each other.
And they also interbred with humans, passing on genetic information that is still with us today and may have helped us to fight diseases. We’re still not sure why the Neanderthals went extinct, but research continues.