I like my science fiction to be hard. Hard SF rigorously follows the laws of nature as revealed through science, but you may well consider its role as challenging the current paradigms on which that science is based. In that regard I frequently note a lack of imagination.
I have read books in which man uplifts other animals to sapience, and books in which some mysterious ETI has uplifted us, but they always miss the really big possibilities. Here I find evidence consistent with a contemporary species being more intelligent than us, inventing farming thousands of years before us, having a more complex language, out massing us, and dominating the biosphere right up until we cluelessly unleashed a genocide against them two hundred years ago.
Isn’t it interesting that the deepest maternal and paternal DNA lineages of ours are from San tribesmen. San tribesmen speak several seemingly unrelated languages, that are united only by the presence of unique embed clicks. Other evidence also places the origin of click consonants close to the root of the very first human language. To Western ears, these clicks mimic the sound of the sperm whale’s speaking.
Also Interesting is that, well before the rise of our agriculture, there was a period when we seemed to be so sophisticated at seafaring that we spread all the way to Australia. As such, that could well be where technology first displayed its vast potential in the hands of an animal of our dexterity.
If you are going to go even further, what about persistent speculation that ancient Egyptians were helped to create their civilisations by super intelligent aliens. This seems based on a very strange technology they had, whereby the drilling rate per turn was higher in harder rock. One of the few ways to explain this would be if our very first drilling technology was based on sonic processes that would be very alien to our nature. A very similar type of technology, this time used to face stone, might explain the common features in construction in many of our first, and seemingly independent, megalithic constructions. These include finding it easier to work with very large stones, and cutting them to fit perfectly with curved or irregular lines. Now, I wonder, what sort of aliens might be aligned to sonic technologies? Perhaps aquatic ones with an inbuilt sound gun?
Another point to ponder is this: our first evidence for human civilisation is about 10,000 years ago, with a a couple of highly sophisticated towns and… nothing else! What if the genesis of human civilisation was coastal? In that case Jericho and Catalhoyuk were just the tip of the iceberg, all other evidence for that beginning being under 60 metres of water, due to the post-glacial rise in sea levels.
Then, is it that much of a stretch to speculate that sperm whales could have uplifted us, or that without that guidance we might have slipped to extinction? Come on you budding hard SF writers, see if you can be more imaginative than the current crop.