The researchers found brightly-colored shell ornaments and the remains of several colorful pigments in a cave that would have been a few kilometers from the Mediterranean Sea 50 thousand years ago, in an area that is now southern Spain. At another site nearby, they found more shell ornaments and pigments. What's remarkable is that many of these objects predate the era when Neandertals and early homo sapiens lived together in Europe. That means the Neandertals independently hit upon the idea to create shell jewelry and pigments. Previously, it's been difficult to determine whether Neandertal ornaments were the result of cross-pollination between the immigrant human population and the native Neandertals.
On a more serious level, this is a very positive discovery. Art and decoration are seen with some reason as indicators of symbolic thinking. And many scientists looking at the past have claim-jumped every art artifact for modern humans. When they come from unambiguous Neandertal sites, they may be downgraded to purely functional objects. For the most part Steven Mithen does both these things in his nonetheless interesting book The Singing Neanderthals. If only we have art, therefore symbolic thinking is also ours alone, and thus language, science, and higher intellect are limited to our circle.
To point out the obvious, at one time in the not-too distant past, this "us" included only well-bred whites of Northern European stock. Old habits die hard.
We may be special, but the suggestion that another related-but-different race had innovations and accomplishments means that we're not alone at the top. Not in the big picture.
As with each of us individually, so with us as a race. We don't know how long exactly we'll exist on this planet. Understanding those who've been dismissed as an evolutionary dead end (which they may have been, but who isn't?) could increase the quality of our time.