I'm trying to plan out a story that flips the roles of a 50's giant monster movie that has a human be awakened by cryostasis 20 million years in the future by an bipedal ant species. The human is as big to the ants that a creature of 60m would be to us. Would like the ants to be non colony species, that doesn't lay as many eggs and has developed cities, 50's era technology and weapons that are ineffective against the human. Maybe even have sexual dimorphism with the females being larger (just an idea). I guess my main question is anything of this ant species seems believable or are there ways to it more believable? If you also have any idea what Earth might look like in 20 million years I would appreciate any information (I'm having a hard time finding any). I hope this makes sense and hope you have a nice day.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ With Earth-based life, you probably have some lower limit on the size of the brain if you want each individual organism to be roughly as intelligent as a human. There's some wiggle room, and some creative ways to sidestep the limit (especially if you go with alien life), but I don't think you can have them be half an inch tall. The other stuff? Species slip into and out of hive/colony mode all the time... not all bees are like that, for instance. One of Baxter's novels, humans become hive people in just a few centuries. That part's fine. But you'll need to get them bigger. $\endgroup$
    – John O
    Aug 11, 2021 at 20:50
  • $\begingroup$ So are they about hand-sized or are we about the size of their foot? There's some wiggle room with your wording on their size. I'm willing to assume they're the smaller one with regards to other details but this is just to make sure. $\endgroup$
    – Lemming
    Nov 5, 2021 at 10:52
  • $\begingroup$ I'm having a difficult time making the concepts of "Ant" and "Non-Colony" talk to each other. You could do it, of course, but the end result will only be vaguely ant-shaped, not "Ant". $\endgroup$
    – PcMan
    Nov 5, 2021 at 11:02

1 Answer 1


I can definitely answer the part of this question about what the world will look like; it'll be about the same.

There are a several versions of what the next supercontinent will look like but that will take several hundred million years to form and you're looking at a fraction of that so the changes will be relatively small. Geologically 20MA isn't very long at all, the most noticable changes are going to be at volcanic hotspots, so Hawaii and Iceland are going to look quite different; the currently active subaerial vents at Hualālai, Mauna Loa, and Kīlauea, are going to be less active Hualālai in particular may be entirely inactive, while the Lōʻihi Seamount will be an active subaerial vent building a new volcanic island. The exact changes in Icleand are harder to predict.

There will also probably have been at least one Supervolcanic event in that time which will have rearranged the local geography. There will also probably have been at least one more megathrust earthquake that will change the maps in that area. And there will probably have been several large scale collapse events from islands in the Canaries and Hawaii that will cause mega-tsunamis to rearrange coastlines around the Atlantic and Pacific oceans respectively.

Of tectonic plates the only one that will have moved a "significant" distance will be India which will have continued to deform the Eurasian Plate.

There will also have been a number of ice ages that will have glaciated highlands and driven drastic changes in flora and fauna.

There may have been one or more magnetic reversal events which wouldn't have any visible effect on the surface topography but are potentially important for other reasons which I will discuss below.


The continents are going to look about the same, their coastlines, mountain ranges, rivers etc... will differ in detail but not in outline.

Now lets talk about the "ants", Geomagnetic Reversals are times of extremely high surface radiation on Earth because the magnetic field that protects Earth goes through a period of low intensity where it provides less shielding. This increased radiation causes a lot of DNA damage and kills a lot of plants and animals, that opens a number of ecological niches. It also introduces a number of mutations to the gene-pools of many surviving species, some small percentage of those will be beneficial helping their carriers. In short a lot of diversification and speciation occurs during and after these events. Your "ants" could be explained as an outgrowth of the rapid processes of mutation and speciation caused by magnetic reversals and helped along by ice ages.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .