BRISTOL, England, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- Evidence that Neanderthals wore body paint dispels the idea they were "half-wits," a British archaeologist said.
Shells coated with residue of mixed color pigments were found at two archaeological sites in southern Spain's Murcia province.
The shells were found with lumps of a yellow pigment and a red powder mixed with flecks of a reflective black mineral, said Joao Zilhao, who teaches archaeology at Bristol University.
The sculpted colored shells may have been worn as jewelry and the pigments used as make-up and body paint 50,000 years ago, Zilhao said in a recent issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The findings show Neanderthals were capable of symbolic thinking and were not "half-wits," Zilhao told the BBC in a story published Monday.
"To me, it's the smoking gun that kills the argument once and for all," Zilhao said.