Let’s learn about Godzilla and King Kong

If these blockbuster monsters really existed, they’d each bring unique adaptations to a fight

godzilla and king kong race through an underground cave, both of their jaws open to roar

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire bursts into theaters on March 29. Godzilla (left) and King Kong (right) are both so big that physics and biology would prevent their existence. But if these two iconic beasts were real, they’d bring some really useful adaptations to a battle.

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

This week, Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire bursts into theaters. In the film, Godzilla and King Kong must unite against a new threat to save the world. But if these two beasts really existed, their greatest common enemy would likely be physics. Journalist Tom Ward explained why in a story for WIRED.

In the movies, King Kong is reputed to be more than 100 meters (330 feet) tall and weigh some 158 tons. Godzilla is supposedly even bigger: a whopping 120 meters (390 feet) tall and 164 tons. But these monsters will only stomp across the movie screen. Animals that big would probably be too heavy to stand up. Earth’s true biggest animal, the blue whale, has the benefit of buoyancy to support its body. But even the biggest blue whales only grow to be about 30 meters (100 feet) long and 150 metric tons.

The actual largest ape ever to walk the Earth was a pipsqueak when compared with King Kong. That primate, Gigantopithecus blacki, wandered what is now China a couple million years ago. It resembled a 3-meter-tall (10-foot-tall) orangutan. Meanwhile, the largest Godzilla-like creatures on land would have been the dinosaurs. The biggest of those were the long-necked sauropods, which maxed out at less than 40 meters (120 feet) long and around 75 metric tons.

Still, if Godzilla or King Kong could exist, each one would bring some pretty neat adaptations to battle. Kiersten Formoso explored these in a story for The Conversation. Formoso is a functional morphologist. That type of scientist studies how animals’ skeletons and tissues let them move. King Kong would likely have a great arm for throwing, she says. His powerful jaws would have a super strong bite, too.

Godzilla, meanwhile, could use his tail as a whip, like some modern lizards do. The giant reptile’s scaly skin and sharp spikes would also offer good defense, Formoso says. Godzilla’s atomic breath is another question. No known reptile can do that. But perhaps it would be possible if Godzilla maintained a healthy diet of radioactive rocks or meat.

Want to know more? We’ve got some stories to get you started:

Where does Godzilla get his atomic breath? Some secrets of the kaiju’s atomic breath can be explained with creative applications of physics and biology. (10/16/2023) Readability: 7.9

Monstrous mammals would break the body rules Giant mammals and people thunder through our movies and books. But real mammals can only get so large before they can’t take the heat. (5/17/2022) Readability: 6.3

Have you seen Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster? Probably not Floe Foxon is a data scientist by day. In his free time, he applies his skills to astronomy, cryptology and sightings of mythical creatures. (2/12/2014)

Meet Gigantopithecus, the largest ape to ever live! The primate was no King Kong, but it was still pretty big.

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Have we found Bigfoot? Not yeti

A tooth fossil shows Gigantopithecus’ close ties to modern orangutans (from Science News)

The desert planet in ‘Dune’ is plausible, according to science (from Science News)


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The real largest animals walking on land today are African elephants. Want to see them in action? Check out live cameras from the Oakland or San Diego zoos — or this feed from Tembe Elephant Park in South Africa!

Maria Temming is the Assistant Managing Editor at Science News Explores. She has bachelor's degrees in physics and English, and a master's in science writing.

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