Describe someone as a Neanderthal and the chances are you mean they are a bit of a brute, sadly lacking in manners.
Yet this caricature of prehistoric man is unfair, if the latest research is to be believed. Neanderthals apparently had a deep sense of compassion and care, a study has shown.
Their findings showed that the injured and infirm were routinely cared for in this period. The researchers examined archaeological evidence for clues as to the way in which emotions began to develop in our ancestors.
Empathy in Homo erectus – pre-humans from 1.8million years ago – was linked to the development of rational thought
There is evidence of this species showing care towards the sick, while special treatment of their dead suggested they experienced grief at the loss of a loved one and a desire to soothe others.
Compassion is perhaps the most fundamental human emotion
‘It binds us together and can inspire us, but it is also fragile and elusive.