Godzilla versus King Kong: unviable body shape and activity

The fictional film giants Godzilla and King Kong, which have grown in size over decades, would be unviable in the real world because their bones would break in carrying such enormous weights. Apparently it’s all to do with biomechanics.

Godzilla versus King Kong. Unviable body shape and activity. Image in public domain.

When you grow an animal to these sorts of sizes – and in the latest version of King Kong he appears to be about 400 feet tall – you can’t maintain the conventional form or body confirmation. The legs have to be much thicker and stronger. In the modern incarnation of King Kong it is estimated that he would have weighed about 160 tonnes.

Richard Dawkins, the evolutionary biologist said: “When you have something like an elephant or a dinosaur, its legs are great, big, thick tree trunks.”

The experts referred to the dinosaurs. The giant dinosaurs at about 37 m long and about 60 tons in weight had these enormously thick legs and they developed ways to lighten their skeletons. They had hollow limb bones and air sacs in their vertebrae to limit their weight. The experts decided that Tyrannosaurus rex would not have been able to run when it grew to about 40 feet in length. Calculations indicate that it would not have been able to adopt a running gait, which goes against the well-known scene in Jurassic Park.

Dr Susan Maidment, a palaeontologist at the Natural History Museum said: “Its limb bones would literally have snapped under the force” (if it tried to run).

She has never seen the monster films featuring Godzilla or King Kong but she knows that they include “fairly vigourous activity”. She also knows that it simply wouldn’t be possible for creatures of that size.

It is just an interesting thought but not much more because they are fictional characters after all. That fiction extends to their body conformation and behavior both of which are in reality impractical and untenable according to biomechanics.