Anthropology is the study of humans. It’s the study of our cultural diversity and developments. Our similarities and differences. It’s the study of our history–hopefully without some of the drawbacks of nationalism that History is criticized for.
It’s the study of our shared heritage. And that includes or place in the Animal Kingdom.
So in order to understand the biological aspects of the field of anthropology, we need to have a basic understanding of evolution.
Neanderthals are the original “missing link.” That hypothesized link in the chain that connects us to our ever-more-apelike ancestors. Neanderthals have long been assumed to be “less than” human. In anthropological circles, even in lower level anthropology courses, that assumption has been under debate.