Neandertals are the best known of the ancient humans, the only kind of ancient person in most people's imaginations.
I've worked so much on Neandertals because for some questions they're the only group for whom we have a hope of testing hypotheses. It just happens that we've found more of their bones than any other humans from their era -- a lot more in some cases. The skeletal evidence has emerged over more than 150 years, and today we can add the tremendous and growing store of genetic information from ancient DNA. Put these sources of evidence together, and Neandertals are providing the richest and most interesting scientific problems in paleoanthropology today.
Studying these people has given me a great appreciation of Neandertal lives. They faced and overcame challenges that few people living today can imagine.