In my opinion, this points to the conclusion that use of pigments and red ochre in particular is not a modern human innovation that was adopted (late) by the sister Neandertal taxon, but rather that something that humans used long-before the advent of "modernity", dating, perhaps, to H. heidelbergensis, the common ancestor of modern humans and Neandertals.
Of interest in that regard is the following tidbit of information from an unrelated source:
Sicevo Gorge - a canyon cut into the Kunivica plateau in southeastern Serbia - contains a series of caves, at least one of which has yielded evidence of human presence during the Ice Age of present-day Europe. In 2008, anthropologists excavating in a small cave uncovered a partial human lower jaw with three teeth.
"We were looking for Neanderthals," said Dr. Mirjana Roksandic, a participating palaeo-anthropologist with the University of Winnepeg (Canada) and a leading research team member. "But this is much better.
"What they discovered was definitely a human that, at least in terms of morphology, predated the Neanderthal and may have had more in common physically with Homo erectus - thought by many scientists to be the precursor to both Neanderthals and modern humans. Recent tests conducted by Dr. Norbert Mercier at the University of Bordeaux (France) produced a date of "older than" 113,000 years BP - long before modern humans in present-day Europe - and the fossil could be substantially older.So, I would not assume that 200-250ky ago in Europe was definitely "early Neandertals".
John Hawks covers the paper in detail.
PNAS doi: 10.1073/pnas.1112261109
Use of red ochre by early Neandertals
Wil Roebroeks et al.
The use of manganese and iron oxides by late Neandertals is well documented in Europe, especially for the period 60–40 kya. Such finds often have been interpreted as pigments even though their exact function is largely unknown. Here we report significantly older iron oxide finds that constitute the earliest documented use of red ochre by Neandertals. These finds were small concentrates of red material retrieved during excavations at Maastricht-Belvédère, The Netherlands. The excavations exposed a series of well-preserved flint artifact (and occasionally bone) scatters, formed in a river valley setting during a late Middle Pleistocene full interglacial period. Samples of the reddish material were submitted to various forms of analyses to study their physical properties. All analyses identified the red material as hematite. This is a nonlocal material that was imported to the site, possibly over dozens of kilometers. Identification of the Maastricht-Belvédère finds as hematite pushes the use of red ochre by (early) Neandertals back in time significantly, to minimally 200–250 kya (i.e., to the same time range as the early ochre use in the African record).