I think some unix programs will keep a temp file somewhere deep within the guts of the system, and after a program crashes you can go hunt around for them and possibly recover something. (a) i remember seeing this in linux but don't remember any more details (b) is there some equivalent in OS X? A colleague just lost 2 hours of work in after effects after a crash.
Almost certainly not. While it's possible that After Effects could auto-save a copy periodically, it would either have been obvious or it would offer to restore it when you first opened After Effects after the crash. For instance, TextEdit will auto-save a modified file periodically with "(autosaved)" appended to the filename, but this is removed if you quit TextEdit normally or save the file.
Unfortunately, I fear this will just have to be a learning experience for your colleague about the importance of saving regularly, and making judicious copies (or even better, automatic backups) of those saves to allow undoing beyond the last save point if the program doesn't support that.