This article is from WeChat official account:Principle (ID: principle1687), author: Kiersten Formoso (ARTS ancient vertebrate morphology PhD University of Southern California), the original title: “war Godzilla King Kong (Science)” from the title figure: “Costa “La vs. King Kong” stills

In the spring of 2021, the battle between two behemoths on the screen feasted the audience: the movie “Godzilla vs. King Kong” brought the two most iconic monsters in history to a face-to-face confrontation. Outside the screen, whether it is “Brother” fans or King Kong followers, they are naturally divided into two camps.

Even the most fantastic creatures cannot be separated from the reality of science, so the natural world is a good place to learn about movie monsters.

My research direction is functional morphology. Simply put, it is to study how bones and tissue characteristics make animals move, as well as the evolution of extinct animals. I am also a huge fan of monster movies. From a scientific point of view, this battle is ultimately a struggle between giant reptiles and giant primates. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages in biology.

My research in the fields of morphology and biomechanics may bring some “hidden information” about this war. Perhaps they can help you decide whether to stand on the “Godzilla team” or become a supporter of the “King Kong team”.


Before starting the analysis, the very important point that needs to be explained is that whether it is King Kong or Godzilla, they are absolutely far beyond the currently known biologically possible categories-this is due to the laws of biology and physics decided.

Just enumerate a few representative aspects, and you can feel the problems they may face on earth: they may not be able to support their own weight; the heart may not have enough capacity to pump blood to the head; they will experience thermoregulation Problem; the brain’s nerve signals take a long time to reach the end of the body…

Of course, if we want to continue the discussion of this war, let’s assume for the moment that both Godzilla and King Kong can overcome these size limitations in some way beyond our knowledge——They may have unique mutations and characteristics due to exposure to high levels of radiation.

Let’s explore their advantages and disadvantages in battle based on their performance on the big screen.

2. King Kong: King of the Apes

At first glance, King Kong probably knows that it is a huge primate. The largest primate we know is an extinct relative of the orangutan, named Great Ape(Giantopithecus), A little bigger than today’s gorillas. And King Kong will definitely dwarf any primate.

However, King Kong is not just a giant gorilla.

The most striking thing about King Kong is its upright biped walking posture. Those who have watched the King Kong movies may have noticed that this behemoth walks mainly on two legs, unlike any other existing apes. This ability may imply that it is closely related to the evolution of human beings, the only existing primate that can stand upright, or there is a possibility that its upright posture may be the result of convergent evolution.

King Kong has the comprehensive physical characteristics of gorillas and similar people. | Image source: Cliff / Wikimedia Commons under CC BY

In either case, King Kong is similar to us, with muscular and thick legs, which are very suitable for walking and running. It also has free upper limbs and large hands with grasping ability. These characteristics make it have the ability to use tools.ability.

The two-legged upright posture of human beings is unique in the animal kingdom. It provides us with a series of biomechanical abilities, and King Kong may also have similar abilities. For example, the human torso is very flexible and is particularly good at rotating. This feature, coupled with our loose upper limb girdle (the structure that connects the upper limbs to the trunk through joints and ligaments) makes humans become animals The best thrower in the kingdom. King Kong may also be an excellent thrower, which is naturally helpful for fighting.

King Kong also has many gorilla-like features, such as long muscular arms, short snout and huge fangs. It also has high sagittal crests(sagittal crest), that is to say, it has a bone ridge on the top of its head as a fixed point for the strong mandibular muscles, providing it with great bite force.

There is a prominent bone on the gorilla skull, which helps them have an excellent bite force. | Image source: Didier Descouens/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA

Strong, agile, adaptable to the terrestrial environment, with the wisdom of using tools, and unparalleled throwing ability, King Kong is definitely a very threatening force in battle.

3. Godzilla: aquatic lizard not to be underestimated

According to the setting, Godzilla seems to be a huge semi-aquatic reptile. Like King Kong, Godzilla also combines the characteristics of different species.

Godzilla’s upright posture is between a lizard and a dinosaur, which is very unique. The picture depicts if it and the dinosaur adopt the same standing posture. | Image source: Kenneth Carpenter/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA

It can be seen in recent Godzilla movies that this behemoth moves freely on land, but it seems to move more comfortably in water, even though it does not seem to have obvious aquatic features.

Interestingly, Godzilla is depicted as having gills on his neck. After terrestrial vertebrates left the ocean about 370 million years ago, they lost this characteristic. Considering the terrestrial characteristics of Godzilla, the species it belongs to is likely to have the ancestors of terrestrial reptiles, and has re-evolved a predominantly aquatic lifestyle—perhaps a bit like turtles or sea snakes. These animals actually live in the water. It can absorb oxygen through the skin. Godzilla may have a unique re-evolved gill.

The biggest difference between Godzilla and King Kong is the tail. Its huge tail is anchored and controlled by huge muscles that connect to its legs, hips and lower back.

Dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus (Tyrannosaurus rex) will stand horizontally and use their tails to maintain balance to help them walk and run. In contrast, Godzilla stood upright with his tail hanging down to the ground. This may be to maintain another balance. This vertical posture is unique to a two-legged reptile, which seems more like a standing kangaroo.

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Tyrannosaurus and other dinosaurs have huge muscles that connect their tails to the hips and legs. | Image source: Dr. Scott Hartman, CC BY-ND

Godzilla stands on two muscular, pillar-like legs. The characteristics of this leg are somewhat similar to those of a sauropod. It helps to support his own huge weight, maintain stability, and also Can strengthen the power of its tail.

In addition to a powerful tail, Godzilla has three rows of spikes on his back, thick scaly skin over his body, and carnivorous fangs on his relatively small head. In addition, it also has freely moving arms and grasping hands, which are built on a muscular body.

All these characteristics also make Godzilla a terrible and fearsome opponent.

Four, prepare, fight!

Now, we have understood the body structure of Godzilla and King Kong more closely. Let us imagine, Who will win the battle.

Although King Kong is slightly smaller than Godzilla, in the new movie, they are basically the same size, and there is no obvious advantage. What about their combat capabilities?

King Kong is more agile,He also uses tools, but Godzilla is stronger and his skin is more protective. | Image source: Tim Simpson/Flickr, CC BY-NC

Godzilla probably likes to use his strong tail for offense and defense, just as some large lizards use the tail as a whip. If the power is enlarged to the size of Godzilla, this tail becomes a deadly weapon—in fact, Godzilla has used this weapon in previous battles.

But King Kong is more comfortable on land, moves faster and more agile, it can jump with strong legs, and it has stronger arms than Godzilla. King Kong’s nirvana might include a slam punch. As a member of the apes, King Kong may use tools to some extent, and should even be able to use its excellent throwing ability.

Both of them have amazing bite force. In this regard, King Kong may have a slight advantage, but Godzilla’s mouth is definitely not weak. Its teeth can pierce flesh and blood, just like the teeth of crocodile and lizard. .

Defensively, Godzilla has a certain advantage, after all, it has thick skin and spikes. It can even act like a porcupine, using its back to block a fast approaching threat. However, King Kong’s sensitive mobility on land should also provide him with some protection.


I admit that in general, I belong to the “Godzilla team”, but the combat effectiveness of the two should be comparable.

In terms of broad ground combat capabilities, I might think King Kong has the upper hand, but Godzilla’s overall weight, defensive ability, and huge tail make it a difficult opponent to deal with. Don’t forget, Godzilla has his unique trick-Atomic Breath!

No matter who can win, I believe this war will be a rare war of the century. Whether as a scientist or a monster movie fan, I am so excited!

#Reference source:

The original title is “Godzilla vs. Kong: A functional morphologist uses science to pick a winner”, first published in The Conversation on March 29, 2021, original link: 157101. The article is translated based on the CC agreement. The Chinese content has been slightly edited and modified for reference only. All content is subject to the original text.

thisThe text comes from WeChat official account: principle (ID: principia1687) , author: Kiersten Formoso