I always find it more interesting to think of the other human species that previously existed on earth in the most - well - human way possible. By depicting neanderthals and other early hominids as bipedal chimpanzees, it's much easier to think of them as animals, rather then people - which tends to make their fascinating lifestyles a little less interesting. Take Homo floresiensis, for example. A tiny race of long-armed men, hunting dwarf stegodons, big rats, and dodging titanic komodo dragons. Just that, there, is a better premise then a lot of sci-fi and fantasy being written today. Depicting them as people helps us realize that they were, in fact, people. A different species, yes, but a still human.