The authors claim that "...there are, in fact, few parallels between lanthanide and actinide chemistry." The article continues that actinide chemistry (or californium-highly polarizable ligand chemistry, at any rate) in many respects is actually more similar to d-block behavior than expected f-block behavior.
What was particularly interesting was that the f-orbitals where also involved in bonding. The original article in Nature Chemistry discusses some DFT calculations on the californium borate, using a "60-electron core quasi-relativistic pseudopotential" for the californium. As far as I can tell, the authors where primarily concerned with scalar relativistic effects (i.e. s- and p-shell contraction and d- and f-shell expansion) rather than spin-orbit coupling. If so, the explanation for their results should be that the higher degree of s-orbital contraction in the actinides versus the lanthanides results in substantially larger f-orbitals, which are better able to form covalent bonds.
In any event, this article opens some interesting questions about heavy element chemistry, and I'm excited to seeing where it will lead.