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Neandertal Jewelry Shows Their Symbolic Smarts

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Science  15 Jan 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5963, pp. 255-256
DOI: 10.1126/science.327.5963.255

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A handful of marine mollusk shells, possibly used as necklaces and paint cups, shows that Neandertals expressed themselves symbolically, say the authors of a paper published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They argue that the findings suggest that social and demographic factors, rather than cognitive differences, best explain why so-called modern behavior was relatively rare among Neandertals.