"There are sophisticated bone tools that are even older in Africa, for instance," McPherron said. "Neanderthals were, however, the first in Europe to make specialized bone tools."
And these aren't the first Neanderthal bone tools, but instead the first Neanderthal bone tools that weren't just replicas of their stone tools.
It remains unclear whether Neanderthals learned how to make lissoirs from modern humans or invented them entirely on their own, or even whether modern humans learned how to make this particular kind of bone tool from Neanderthals.
"The date we have of approximately 51,000 years old is earlier than the best evidence we have of modern humans in Europe, but it is still close enough that we have to mention the possibility," McPherron said. "What we need to do now is look in even older sites for these same tools, to see if Neanderthals had been making these tools for much longer."
"I think that as others look for this bone-tool type amongst their small bones, we will find many more," McPherron added. "I suspect that this new aspect of Neanderthal behavior was actually rather widespread."