The Earth is approximately 4.6 billion years old, an estimate is that a terrestrial biosphere emerged as early as 4.1 billion years ago. Ref The earliest evidences for life on Earth is 3.7 billion years old from Greenland and 3.48 billion years old from Australia. Ref The earliest evidences for sexual reproduction first appears 1200 million years ago and may have increased the rate of evolution and kick started or probably contributed to the evolution of sexual dimorphism (two sexes), where organisms within a species adopted different strategies of parental investment and what would later involve a reliance on caregiver compassion. Most plants unlike most animals are hermaphroditic (both male and female sexes) but approximately 6% of plants have separate males and females or have what amounts to serial sexual dimorphism. Most animals unlike plants are not hermaphroditic but approximately 5% are as well as some are sequential hermaphrodites in which the individual is born as one sex, but can later change into the opposite sex. Ref Ref Ref

Forget Survival of the Fittest: It Is Kindness That Counts

Moreover, we may never completely know when and why caregiver compassion in general or familial compassion specifically. However, the fossil record can, in principle, provide a glimpse and what we see is altruism and even levels of compassion are seen in a variety of species and Kin Selection (genetic), Familial (upbringing) or Familiars (chance) Compassion are the primary evolutionary mechanism. Ref The fossil record shows the arthropod “Kunmingella douvillei” 515 million years ago, arthropod “Waptia fieldensis” 508 million years ago, and arthropod “Ostracods” 450 million years ago to exhibit changes that played a key role in the early evolution of parental care. Ref 1.9 million years ago Homo habilis, the first of our genus Homo who appeared, with modest expansion of a language part of the brain and 1.8 million years ago Homo erectus appeared and had a larger expansion of brain beginning to be regulated as an emotion integrated with rational thought and seem to demonstrate forms of compassion such as caring of sick which represents an extensive compassionate investment. By 500,000 years ago Homo heidelbergensis developed language skills and intelligence and what seems to have been upward march in the commitments to the welfare of others. And evidence from 120,000 years ago demonstrates modern humans where involved in compassion which was extended to strangers, animals, objects and abstract concepts. Thus we cannot think of survival of the fittest without realizing that the aspects of altruism, compassion, empathy, and kindness are part of what assists in that survival. Ref Ref

In general all social animals (which includes humans and their evolutionary ancestors) have had to modify or restrain their behaviors for group living which involves interact highly with other animals, usually of their own species. Social animals are cooperative animals adding to their evolutionary fitness in this solidarity and can roughly be said to exhibit one of more of these behaviors: cooperative sustenance, cooperative upbringing, cooperative generational living, cooperative defense, and cooperative learning. Ref

By Damien Marie AtHope

Kindness is in our genes: How desire to do good deeds is hard-wired into us by evolution: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2019123/Kindness-genes-How-desire-good-hard-wired-evolution.html

The Evolutionary Biology of Altruism, Compassion, cooperation, and community are key to our survival: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201212/the-evolutionary-biology-altruism

What Price Kindness: Exposing the life and work of a visionary and troubled scientist opens a window onto the evolution of altruism. http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/31099/title/What-Price-Kindness-/

The Evolution of Empathy by Frans de Waal We tend to think of empathy as a uniquely human trait. But it’s something apes and other animals demonstrate as well, says primatologist Frans de Waal. He shows how our evolutionary history suggests a deep-rooted propensity for feeling the emotions of others. http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/the_evolution_of_empathy

Compassion: An Evolutionary Analysis: What is compassion? And how did it evolve? In this review, we integrate three evolutionary arguments that converge on the hypothesis that compassion evolved as a distinct affective experience whose primary function is to facilitate cooperation and protection of the weak and those who suffer. Our empirical review reveals compassion to have distinct appraisal processes attuned to undeserved suffering, distinct signaling behavior related to caregiving patterns of touch, posture, and vocalization, and a phenomenological experience and physiological response that orients the individual to social approach. This response profile of compassion differs from those of distress, sadness, and love, suggesting that compassion is indeed a distinct emotion. We conclude by considering how compassion shapes moral judgment and action, how it varies across different cultures, and how it may engage specific patterns of neural activation, as well as emerging directions of research. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2864937/

Human inclinations are not primarily selfish: kindness and altruism have been evolutionarily valued in mates, and even the youngest children often try to be helpful. http://healthland.time.com/2012/10/08/is-human-nature-fundamentally-selfish-or-altruistic/

Endangered Bonobos Reveal Evolution of Human Kindness: Experiments show the great apes share with strangers and empathize. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/06/140610-bonobos-great-apes-animals-science-evolution/

The Homeless Scientist Who Tried to Prove Selflessness Doesn’t Exist. http://motherboard.vice.com/read/george-price-altruism

Does evolution explain human nature: http://www.templeton.org/evolution/Essays/evolution_booklet.pdf