042_22theneanderthalpostersYet for all this strength, this ancient hunter would be an old man at 30, and apparently none of his race lived to see 40. He spent every day of his life in mortal danger, and would almost certainly be badly hurt at least once. If he survived animal and human violence, he would starve, or freeze, or simply wear out.

His brain was bigger than ours, but possibly organized in a different fashion. He probably had language, but we’re not entirely sure about that. His hunting weapon was the spear, and it probably required that he close with whatever he was trying to kill. He did not look much like we do. His forehead was low, jaw massive, and nose large and protruding. He was not our ancestor, but our cousin. We killed him, either by accident or design or both, hounding him off the end of Europe and into extinction.

He is, of course, Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, and if I should happen to meet him in the next world I would extend him my hand as a fellow hunter. Except he would crush it.