The Hunter α (Umbrella Development Code MA-121: Originally named the Hunter, retrospectively given the moniker α or Alpha due to various improved models being created) was originally one of Umbrellas flagship products, the first successful bonding of human and reptilian DNA plus incorporating the t-Virus
at the embryonic stage resulting in the creation of a mass-produced B.O.W. (Bio-Organic Weapon) which had the potential to be used as a superhuman soldier.
Research and Development was extensive at the Arklay Laboratory site, which was situated underneath the Spencer Mansion
. The project was headed by Dr William Birkin
and development began when the company required a more capable B.O.W. to enter battle sites and mop up any survivors - at the time of development the company only had Web Spinners and Cerberus
dogs to rely on which had inferior intelligence and combat capability.
They took around a year to develop into a mature adult from the embryonic stage and the finished creature resembled a lizard-human cross of an average human height. They were bipedal (meaning they walked on two legs like a human) and had tough scaly skin, extremely sharp claws and a large mouth filled with even sharper teeth. In terms of intelligence it was much higher than anything that had come before this point - they had enough intelligence to interpret simple commands and follow orders for a short time. For example they could be shown how to operate a door, although without constant positive reinforcement they would eventually forget.
During the Spencer Mansion
incident, a handful of Hunter specimens were released by Albert Wesker
who was a member of S.T.A.R.S. that was also a secret Umbrella employee who was tasked with pitting the creatures against all the other S.T.A.R.S. operatives to evaluate them in combat and send the information back to the company. There have been other instances where the Hunter α have been used before the turn of the century - but by then it had been largely replaced with future models.
They were replaced by the Hunter β which used the Hunter α as a template. However the Hunter α found its way onto the B.O.W. black market (most likely by Wesker) and as such is still being used despite the enhanced models out there.