I've got to stop reading posts like this.
Then along came fossil DNA analysis, and the conclusion was that they (Neanderthal) were indeed a separate species who died out.Gets me all melancholy. On the other hand we're yay close to being a space-faring species so there is always room for optimism. Neanderthal didn't have a space program. We do.
This is profoundly disturbing. Neanderthals made tools and interred their dead with grave goods, there was even something that looks a lot like a bone flute discovered in one site.
Let that possibility sink in for a moment. An intelligent species, who modified their environment and cared for their dead like us died out and left nothing behind but bones and tools, and the knowledge that a people who lived, loved, and wondered about the universe are gone forever. What does that mean about us? Could we wind up on the list of extinct species someday? Except that unless there is a successor species, there won't be any lists kept.