Someone posted a picture of Flik (from Disney’s a Bug’s Life) to the facebook entomological meme’s page (appropriately named Etememeology), asking, “Is Flik an ant? He has four legs only. what is Flik exactly?”
I couldn’t resist answering that one, inspired by my newfound interest in speculative evolution— a genre of hard sci-fi that’s also related to the real life disciplines of astrobiology (study of life in the universe, including potentially alien life) and xenobiology (forms of life as yet unknown to science, including an alternative biochemistry).
I cleaned up the comment I made originally, and without further ado…
Hello sapients, I am an alien scholar who has peered through time to answer your question. Flik’s species is known as Falsum Formicae (false ants), indigenous to “Ant Island”. In a different universe, there was a strain of tetrapods, related to Mammals actually, that evolved from increasingly tiny hairless rats in the rapidly warming environment, which had followed an unspecified geological event that preceded the evolution of the Tetrapodic Ants.
These rats became the Falsum Formicae. The Ants of a Bug’s Life were actually mammals!
This species has remarkably undergone self-domestication (disputed), showing signs of the “Domestication Syndrome”, such as less aggression, neotenic traits like big eyes and rounded cheeks, cooperative and social behaviours, etc.
There are males and females of the species. No members of the species flies except for the “Royal Females”. There were no drones.
Some scholars argue that the Falsum Formicae did not domesticate themselves, but were domesticated over multiple generations by a violent species of grasshoppers who first defeated and enslaved their much more violent ancestors.
Presumably the Grasshoppers culled all aggressive members of Flik’s species as they appeared in every generation, and over time, created a docile species to harvest food for them.
Such a method of natural selection caused unexpected mutations to come to the fore, resulting in near-savants like Flik, who have incredible innovative abilities, with a shockingly instinctual affinity for technology (See Ant Island “Leaf, Twigs, and Rock” Age Culture).
If true, then Hopper’s ancestors laid the ground for their own defeat by indirectly “breeding” Flik into existence.
Flik of course, was the semi-legendary King of the the early Ant Island Polity known to later generations as the Leaf, Twigs, and Rock Age.
They were the direct precursors of the Antic Colonial Empire, which was concurrent to that of the other Universe’s Humanity (a species of Homo Sapiens, but with considerably more archaic human admixture, due to differences between universes).
The Technological Level of the Antic Colonial Empire never reached beyond the Iron Age, but they had advanced clockwork and flight technology for their entire existence (in fact, as far back as during Flik’s time, who supposedly invented a legendary Bird Machine to fool the Grasshoppers). Sadly it was wiped out when humanity started a nuclear war between the USA and the Soviet Union.
In the following nuclear winter, the surviving Ants of the Twilight Age evolved larger over time, finally dominating the world as their new Mammalian Overlords, into a new species: Deus Falsum Formicae. The Divine False Ants.
They would achieve spaceflight within a generation.