"My own feeling is that if Neanderthals regularly used symbols, and given their longtime occupation throughout large parts of the Old World, we probably would have found clearer evidence by now," said Harold Dibble, an archaeologist at the University of Pennsylvania, who also was not involved in the study.
Dibble said he was convinced these markings were deliberate, but scientists need "more than a few scratches - deliberate or not - to identify symbolic behavior on the part of Neanderthals."
"Symbols, by definition, have meanings that are shared by a group of people, and because of that, they are often repeated," Dibble wrote in an email. "By itself, this is a unique example and without any intrinsic meaning ... the question is not 'Could it be symbolic?' but rather 'Was it symbolic?' And to demonstrate that, it would be very important to have repeated examples."
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