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Literature / Of Ants and Dinosaurs

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Of Ants and Dinosaurs (alternative name The Cretaceous Past) is an allegoral novel written by Liu Cixin (of The Three-Body Problem fame). It concerns the alliance between a civilisation of ants and dinosaurs in the late Cretaceous period.

The seeds of a fateful alliance were based on dentistry. From there, it led to massive technological developments such as Mathematics, writing, energy and even nuclear weapons. However, the dinosaur civilisation eventually splits into two warring factions and an ecological collapse is impending. When they refuse to impend the ants' warnings, they are forced to decide whether to destroy the dinosaurs' civiliisation, or perish alongside them.

The book was translated and released in 2020.


  • Apocalypse How: The ants intend to cause a Class 2 amongst the dinosaurs near the end of the book. They end up causing a Class 2 on themselves and a Class 3 on the dinosaurs instead by accident.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Although the ant and dinosaur societies are destroyed, not all life on Earth is killed off as the ants feared and it is stated that a successor species will eventually come to take the two's places.
  • The Dinosaurs Had It Coming: Indirectly, the dinosaurs went extinct because of overcrowding and a cold war between two states, leading to the ants deciding to regress the dinosaurs' civilisation to save themselves. The thing which killed them in the end though was the antimatter bombs that they made, which went off without anyone there (the ants had killed off all the important figures) to stop them from going off.
  • Formerly Sapient Species: After the Dinosaur and Ant civillisations are destroyed, it is stated that the ants will eventually regress back into non-sapient foragers.
  • Green Aesop: The dinosaurs don't do anything to combat overpopulation and polluting their environment and they go extinct as an indirect consequence as a result. In contrast, the ants, which use green energy, are protrayed as smarter than the dinosaurs and their race survives in the end.
  • Odd Friendship: One of these is formed species wide between the dinosaurs and the ants.
  • Overpopulation Crisis: The Ant's plot to kill the dinosaurs is kicked off when the dinosaurs refuse to get their population under control.
  • Phlebotinum Killed the Dinosaurs: A combination of the ants killing off the most important figures of dinosaur society and two antimatter weapons going off (anyone who could have reset the timer which prevents them from going off had been killed) killed them off in the end in this novel.
  • Precursors: The novel is based upon the idea that before humanity, a civillisation of Dinosaurs working together with Ants existed. These two were able to advance to technological levels similar to modern day humanity. However, due to two antimatter weapons going off, the dinosaurs died off and the ants regressed into a non-sapient state, ending the two civilisations.
  • The Tooth Hurts: Humourously, this is how the two societies developed in the first place: A dinosaur got lizard stuck between it's teeth and the local ants, fearing the potential destruction of their town, decide to help the dinosaur. From there, they wind up becoming dentists for the dinosaurs and huge leaps in medical technology were made as a result.