Just to reinforce my previous point that it’s natural to think of Neanderthals as living in a post-apocalyptic setting, here’s anthropologist Charles Finlayson:
By the time the classic Neanderthals emerged, during the last interglacial around 125,000 years ago, they were already a people doomed to extinction. Like the hippos, rhinos, and elephants of the eurasian forest, the Neanderthals were a population of living dead, existing on borrowed time.
The Humans Who Went Extinct, p. 116
Finlayson argues that this is so because Neanderthals developed to be ambush hunters, relying on woodlands for close range hunting. Because of climate change after 125,000 years ago, the woodland areas that the Neanderthals exploited best gave way to drier, treeless terrain. Although the Neanderthals survived for almost another 100,000 years, this was the beginning of the end. The apocalypse had already happened, and Neanderthals were playing out the aftermath.
There is more to say on this… stay tuned.