Confirmed: Human compassion is more than three million years old

Spikins cites an early example of the Makapansgat pebble, found in a cave in South Africa with australopithecines – which date back approximately 3million years. She suggests the pebble, which has pits and markings shaped like a baby’s face, may have been carried several miles by these early humans because the markings reminded australopithecines of a child.

‘It is impossible for tell for sure but this is not the only tantalising sign of something perhaps approaching tenderness,’ she added. 

Language skills and intelligence are thought to have developed in the past 500,000 years and maybe as late as 150,000 years ago.