Ants are amazing little creatures. They work together to build massive colonies underground, jointly take down insects five times their size (occasionally going for small animals too). In my world (the idea is finally solidifying) Humans and Neanderthals (somehow with all of the specialists and collective knowledge of the late Industrial Age, Early technology age, think 1990's) have been dropped off on a pretty biologically dead planet compared to the Earth, and they are struggling to develop a culture and surviving.

The problem is, there is already a culture, a culture of giant, ant-like creatures, utilizing the same pheromonal communication method and hive behavior as Earth-ants. They roughly have a Modern-age society too, with all the capabilities of the people other than individuality

They (for the most part) have tamed their natural predators. My question is:

  • What would the obvious evolutionary obstacles faced by such a hive-minded collective be? What would be their motivation for increasing tech levels

  • How would such a hive minded society develop intelligence as a colony? Specifically what level of individualism is required to function as a modern society and still be considered a colony?

-What obvious and not so obvious types of conflicts would happen between:

As I mentioned, biological diversity is quite limited, and only a few hundred organisms exist planet-wide that are not toxic (to both humans and Insectoids). The humans were dropped off in an unexplored(unexplored because Insectoids don't like building colonies on islands because they have to dig deeper than when building inland) part of the planet in large numbers with basic rifles and tools. The basic rules the potential conflicts have to fall into are the following:

  • Humans and Neanderthals were dropped off on a massive Archipelago that doesn't suite the Insectoids, therefore remains uninhabited and unmonitored.

  • The drop off ship is extremely advanced cloaking device, and therefore was not detected by the Insectoid space craft.

  • Human/Neanderthal coalition thrives for twenty years and cities are built on the Islands. Then a war breaks out between the two races. This is how the Insectoids learn of us.

This question might be too broad, that is why I added the extra conditions. If you need me to narrow anything down or add information of my world ask me in the comments. Any questions other than the obvious, "Why did the people get dropped off?" or anything not directly involved in the question. These are topics for another question, and as such should not be discussed here.

(Just a reminder because people often ask questions about the worlds that have nothing whatsoever to do with answering the question.)


To clarify things, the Humans and Neanderthals are dropped off at about ten million each, on separate halves of the Archipelago with the same 1990's tech and medical specialists (that is, members of each race specializing in all of the respective departments to make a 1990's proto-American culture thrive and survive.

The Insectoids (as I thought would be obvious by the comparison with ants rather than wasps or bees) prefer to live underground, only building fortifications above the surface near ventilation shafts and entrances/exits.

Each colony is essentially a nation with alliances able to be formed between colonies such as the Argentine Ant. The only reason such colonies have not merged is because of genetic anomalies (an example would be humans having multiple skin colors) that are minuscule, but large enough for the Insectoids to notice.

The Archipelego would look something like this:

enter image description here

Multiplied many times. You could also liken it to Indonesia in size and number of islands. And Indonesia supports 250,000,000 people.


closed as too broad by Renan, Ash, Frostfyre, Hoyle's ghost, bendl Apr 24 at 13:45

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ Remember the variety of foods humans have developed to need...lack of a citrus or other source of vitamin C would put the newly arrived population in a situation where most of the population is suffering from scurvy. The list of vitamins and minerals we require is rather long and a few hundred non toxic food sources might end up lacking in something we really need to survive. $\endgroup$ – Twelfth Feb 14 '15 at 1:31
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    $\begingroup$ Also what kind of resources could be mined on such archipelago. With 20M inhabitants, it is quite some continent - why ants are not interested in any of it? And how you feed population of 20M humanoids? Do they have resources to build chemical factories to produce fertilizers? Silicon foundries to build electronics? How is humanoid civilization powered? Nuclear? Who build all that infrastructure? And why humanoid base was not detected earlier for ant's satellites? $\endgroup$ – Peter M. Feb 14 '15 at 1:38
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    $\begingroup$ I am going to add a map similar to what I am looking for. $\endgroup$ – the_OTHER_DJMethaneMan Feb 14 '15 at 2:16
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    $\begingroup$ Your humans will take over the planet easily as the giant ants suffocate due to the square cube law's effects on their breathing system. $\endgroup$ – Serban Tanasa Feb 14 '15 at 12:05
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    $\begingroup$ How big are these insectoids? $\endgroup$ – Dronz Mar 25 '15 at 16:01

This question is very broad, with many possible responses. Here's a broad-strokes look at how I might answer this if I were going to develop the setting:

  • I would want to avoid having the insectoids be mirrors of Earth history, because I think it's a terrible fallacy of modern thought to assume that our historical path and ideas are universally correct. In particular, I would avoid having anything about the insectoid evolution, goals, nationalism, economy (LOL), religion, language, morality, arts and/or technology be "just like Earth" in any way I noticed I was just assuming they would be very similar.

What would the obvious evolutionary obstacles faced by such a hive-minded collective be? What would be their motivation for increasing tech levels

  • I would research actual ant colony behavior. There are different types - carpenter ants, army ants, fire ants, etc. I would have several such varieties of insectoid orientation on this planet, each varied somewhat from earth ant colony types, and perhaps some entirely different. I would assume there is a hive-mind morphic field (q.v.) for each colony, and possibly also consciousness of some sort for individuals, each insectoid species, another for all insectoid-kind, and perhaps a gaia-like morphic field as well.

  • Evolutionary obstacles are survival challenges at different stages of their past. Ancient ones would have determined their current traits. More recent challenges would have required intelligent adaptation, and current ones would be threatening their current existence and challenging them to change their ways. At first, there would have been more biodiversity which some mutations of theirs happened to be very well adapted to solve. Probably first their increased industriousness, symbiotic relationships with other species, and focussed cooperation. Then they were so successful they ran into other insectoids and fought with them - they survived that by having luckily mutated to avoid stalemate conflicts with other colonies. This was so successful that they started to deplete all their food species. They survived this after a massive die-off when some surviving colonies decided they needed to cultivate other species rather than just eat them all, and insectoid agriculture and invention were developed, leading to near-elimination of non-technological insectoids. This escalated conflict between colonies eventually led to developing other technologies, but now again those technologies are starting to contaminate, spoil and unbalance the planet's ecosystems, and has caused many extinctions of other species - the insectoids will need to change their ways again... either they will need to develop more symbiotic intra-species relationships and greatly reduce the environmental impact of their technologies, or there will be a great conflict or die-off as food and other resources dwindle.

How would such a hive minded society develop intelligence as a collective?

  • Good question, but I wouldn't think you need to know that. I don't think we really know how we animals or humans or Earth ants developed intelligence and consciousness, but we did. Earth ants do show group intelligence and awareness, as if they're all controlled by a psychic overmind or collective consciousness or morphic field. Evidently, this consciousness can learn and develop over time.

  • To develop technology though, I would expect the Insectoids would mainly need some way to record and retrieve some (or much) information details in the physical world, as opposed to just morphic field knowledge. If they have reached modern tech levels, then they would probably have a whole series of information technologies, probably starting with pheromone-based systems, an entire caste of information-keepers, then physical and visual recording systems, and perhaps organic living computers, and communication networks. Perhaps they are on the cusp of developing some sort of advanced living supercomputers.

What obvious and not so obvious types of conflicts would happen between:

A.) The individual colonies of Insectoids (let's call them that)

B.) Humans and Neanderthals

C.) Human/Neanderthals coalition and the Insectoids

Obvious: Resource and territory scarcity conflicts. Xenophobia.

Not so obvious: Secret negotiations, alliances, individual human ambitions or power-hoarding groups of schemers.

My pet theory: The Neanderthals seem the most primitive, but their appreciation of connectedness and symbiotic relationships are actually what the humans and insectoids need to remember in order to survive their advanced-but-flawed fatally-aggressive mindsets.


If we Ants have superior technology (as we likely do), and decide to establish base on the archipelago, humanoids are obviously out of luck, will get tamed like anyone else.

Unless Ants decide to establish a "wilderness park" to study peculiarities of these interesting animals: using sound for communication, preferring right of individual over hive mind, and developing some tools.

But of course park will have to be monitored, and their population will have to be kept in check, so those wild animals will not spread to our farm and destroy our civilization. Some fine specimens might get trained as pets. Or even better, train them and show them in Archipelago World theme parks all over planet. No big deal if some die as a result of the training, or from strange effects similar to depression in Ants: there are plenty more so we can always replenish numbers.

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    $\begingroup$ I think you mis-interpreted the question. I said the HUMANS AND NEANDERTHALS (yes, Neanderthals) established the base on the Archipelago. $\endgroup$ – the_OTHER_DJMethaneMan Feb 14 '15 at 1:23
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    $\begingroup$ No I did not. I am describing the situation (from POV of Ants) after they detected humanoid base on archipelago. $\endgroup$ – Peter M. Feb 14 '15 at 1:26
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    $\begingroup$ I am trying to make the point that the "Ants" and humans have similar tech, with the human tech being only slightly outdated. Somehow I doubt under these circumstances the ants would simply be able to throw us in a zoo. I remembered some details and am editing the question. $\endgroup$ – the_OTHER_DJMethaneMan Feb 14 '15 at 1:26
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    $\begingroup$ Even if level of technology is similar, resources for eventual battle are not. Modern war is about logistics. Even after 20 years of life on archipelago with few resources (so little resources as to be of no interest to planet's dominant species) humanoids will not be ready for war, they will be barely scraping by. $\endgroup$ – Peter M. Feb 14 '15 at 1:33
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    $\begingroup$ keep in mind that ants are next to useless as individuals, and therefore I doubt the individual "Ant" would require entertainment, especially in the form if a zoo. $\endgroup$ – the_OTHER_DJMethaneMan Feb 14 '15 at 1:33

It wouldn't work at all with giant ants

"Giant ant-like insects" just doesn't work. We ascribe some intelligence to swarms and colonies, but they only get so intelligent, because there's so many of them, if you make them giant, you'd have to dial back the numbers.

Also, pheromonal communication is bad for a society. Because they aren't one by the perspective you want to take. They are one organism. One colony functions much like one brain. Pheromonal communication is actually quite similar to neurons firing: Any individual communication by itself is just noise without meaning. So you don't want giant ants to form a civilisation; you want a TON of individual colonies to cooperate as a society.

With that it's feasible. Given environmental pressure to be smarter, ants could evolve to have a new category of workers in their Hive that does nothing but communicate with each other (this would form the brain) while regular worker ants would compose the limbs of our organism. You just need the evolutionary pressure to cooperate with different colonies, and that's it, your ant-world works. With cooperation, technology will follow, as we

And if threatened by their very existence, a colony might be able to take down a human as well, if you want that war in your world.


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