Recent evidence implies that Neanderthals began utilizing boats before modern humans. Does that make them a more advanced race of humanity? Not necessarily. In fact, it is entirely possible that Neanderthals simply evolved faster than modern humans over a short period of time, at which then they more than likely hit their intellectual barrier. Hence, they were able to construct boats, tools, houses, utilizing basic woodworking skills, as this would have been a mental strength, whereas modern humans evolved slower, for their intelligence was far more analytical, a gradual maturing process for a critical thinker. So while the Neanderthals evolved at a quicker rate, their intellectual level had its limits.
Yes, I tend to think they were. We really only have a small picture of what the average day in the life of a Neanderthal was like. We also know so very little about exactly how much intelligence they had. As our science advances, I believe we will discover that there is great many things we currently 'misunderstand.'
In order to survive long enough to adapt and evolve into a more advanced humanoid, Neanderthals had to be able to hunt, eat, travel, and build communities for many generations. These things take time and understanding. They may not have been philosophers like the ancient Greeks, but for primitive man to survive as long as they did, they needed to have some capacity for higher thought.
I have not previously heard this evidence, but if it is absolutely true then it does show us something very interesting about evolution, such that it's not automatic that we get to advance in a completely linear fashion. I'm not threatened by the fact that Neanderthals had some moves that we lacked or struggled to find as homo-sapiens. This actually gives me a slightly renewed interest in anthropology.