@precompute 4d
Well... sure, but if you're really pushing the admixture hypothesis you'd necessarily need to assume that the species that lived in a more densely populated group was likely less individualistic. Add the Neanderthals' survival in sub-zero temps and you can easily claim that the Neanderthals weren't just "a little smarter" than the homo sapiens, they were likely doing 2 or 3 SDs on them, easily. Plus, them being acclimated to the cold would give them much better, not worse, eyesight, because they'd have to cross large distances and actually be able to make out things in the ice, and would also need good peripheral vision for protection from really bright light. "ruinous birth rate" doesn't really make sense... unless you compare the population of the neanderthals to that of the sapiens. By all accounts, the neanderthals lived in small groups, often not even over 30 individuals. They also likely had a very varied diet, or at least a very rich diet, because you can't be expected to be dumb and undernourished if you're eking out centuries in a cave because the weather outside is cold enough to freeze your bones.

As for the last paragraph... agreed. Even the most skillful warriors can be overtaken by a huge wave. Nothing to fight.

@tsojer 4d
I'd say that "Spiritual" here stands for the human spirit, rather than some kind religious spirituality. Spirit being everything surpassing mere cognitive actions needed for survival.

The finding (like many other) strongly implies that neanderthals had the ability of abstract thought and creative urges. This should in no way be surprising since neanderthals appear at a quite late and developed stage of the human evolution.

Neanderthals are generally quite an interesting topic, but equally interesting is the approach and prejudice of the scientific community towards them throughout the history. Research on neanderthals has been littered with logical fallacies by researchers who were absolute experts in their field, but refused the idea of neanderthals being a human subspecies or a remotely intelligent or capable one, just because it didn't fit in their personal or religious worldview.

Upon discovery of neanderthals, leading anatomists at the time were like "yup, that's just a disease ridden regular human". More skeletons crop up and it's obvious that they have similar traits all across the world, and they are still going "Yup, so many disease ridden humans, how strange". Only after a whole cave in Vindia was found with more than 100 individuals that the scientific community half-unwillingly conceded that oh well there might have been another (sub)species parallel to homo sapiens. And that opened another can of worms and it's been decades of trying to prove how Neanderthals were intellectually inferior to Homo Sapiens.

Those fallacies still exist today, and happen to very prominent scientists. I recently read a scientific articles from the late nineties by two anatomists who reconstructed the vocal tract of neanderthals to see if they had acoustic ability for spoken language. While their wok on the reconstruction was impeccable, their conclusion was that neanderthals couldn't have evolved spoken language as they could only produce two consonants. Which is a ridiculous conclusion seeing that there are languages today that use two consonants.

So that's why people get worked up about a neanderthals having a flute and why we still have people saying a hyena made it in the comment section. It's totally wild to me how people can be prejudiced and kind of racist toward someone from tens of thousands of years ago.

@jaredhallen 4d
I've had a similar theory for a long time, admittedly based on basically absolutely nothing. Looking back at history, say WWII, what would have happened if the Axis had won? History is written by the victors, as they say. I have to imagine that things would be perceived differently today, had that happened. Something along the lines of the Heroic Axis defeating the Evil Allies. Having observed the way Homo Sapiens often behave, I've long wondered if we were the Axis, and the Neanderthals the Allies, so to speak.