Here is a cool recent article about Neanderthals. Turns out they were more widespread than we used to think. This article does refer to them as humans. But it also distinguishes them from “modern humans.” And some articles refer to them as different “species.”
But they have tools at their sites, and the reconstructions of their faces look like people we might meet anywhere. (I know that’s an old joke, but it’s also a truism.)
And now, accompanied by a creepy speculative picture, we are told Neanderthals and modern humans were “lovers, not fighters.”
Here’s my take. They were just people, OK?