Some new studies suggest that Neanderthals hadn't projectile weapons. An article in Discover (see below)notes that Africans either have not used spear throwing technologies historically (such as axlatls). This is something like claiming that the French did not have long bows and the English did, or that the Celt population in Europe declined in part because they lagged behind in iron weapons development.
I should stipulate that I don't wish this article to reinforce anyone's metaphysical biases regarding Universal time literals. It is a subtle subject from several philosophical viewpoints beyond that even of theistic evolution.
Humanity's potential lost distant cousins the Neanderthals lived in an abundant world of animal and vegetable life were close up defense against hostile animals and two-legged critters would have been a norm rather than an exception. With a limited ability to carry extra weapons on hunts and volkerwanderrrungs the selection of close-in fighting weapons to deal with close-in threats would have been a logical choice. Projectile weapon evolutions should have developed in response to some sort of long range challenge such as enemy arrows or hurled spears invented in an environment wear such tools wear first needed to secure game that could not be approached closely on foot. Plains and declining game populations would have stimulated longer range weapons development.
When Galileo determined the parabola is the course of projectile weapons launched through the air the modern development of gunnery was enabled. Neanderthals have taken a beating in the global media of course as dimwits. One must be cautious about speculating with the history of the Neanderthal for so much is uncertain and still in research and exploration by anthropologists, archaeologists, genetic researchers and so forth. Some scientists believe that 5% of European and African genes may be from an admixture of D.N.A. from Neanderthal populations that may have existed as recently as 25,000 years before present.
http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2009/01/14/neanderthals-weapon.html Neanderthals lacked projectile weapons
Some regard Neanderthals as a population that died out because of an inability to adapt to a changing climate in Europe-yet that would not account for the African population's demise. Neanderthals had been thought to have failed at manufacture of cold weather articles needed for survival in a colder climate.
Projectile weapons can be thought of as something simple such as axlatls designed to accelerate the speed of a spear. In North Dakota or Minnesota there is still an annual axlatl competition to celebrate old ways of hunting bison. The ancestor population of Neanderthals had the technology for hurling spears nearly 400, 000 years before present-these were homo erectus or Homo erectus or Homo heidelbergensis populations.
European Neanderthals did have spears that may have been tossed occasionally at game or foes, yet the appropriate weapon for a particular hunting and defense environment may differ in accord with the requisite application. Some human populations have not exploited much in the way of projectile weapons for various reasons. Mayan and Aztec populations never applied the wheel perhaps because of topology, ecology and the abundance of slave labor though they had toys with little wheels-perhaps a similar situation existed with Neanderthals. It may be wrong to think of them as victims of a brighter human populations.
As Neanderthals populations blended in or dwindled sundry eugenic political elements may have accelerated the transition away from a separate Neanderthal environment. Perhaps sloped foreheads fell out of fashion as perhaps large noses have in western civilization in recent decades and tribal chiefs selected exogamy with more attractive females as the trendy thing.
I cannot over-sympathize with the alleged Neanderthal failure to possess arsenals of projectile weapons. Could Neanderthals have been the flower children of their age, or were they satisfied to take a large rock and hurl it though the air to crush one of the abundant game animals. Perhaps Neanderthals had no use for flimsy appearing projectile weapons against rivals for offense or defense in the still developing arts of ambush and war ground attacks that might informally continue for hundreds of thousands of years. Closing with the enemy and slashing his throat with a nicely sharp chipped stone knife, bashing skulls with hammers and clubs or stabbing with stout spears isn't really so much different than the methods use by the Macedonian phalanx of Alexander's day. Military evolutions take time, and no weapons arrive before their appropriate time. How can anyone complain that the Neanderthals did not invent projectile weapons soon enough or that modern man did not invent nuclear weapons quickly enough. The proliferation of culture changing weapons technologies may extinguish the life of all the principles evolved in socially stressful conflict situations occasionally.