King Kong is back on the silver screen in the thoroughly silly Kong: Skull Island doing his classic shtick of squashing humans, beating his chest and stomping on similarly-sized monsters. Have you ever wondered, though, whether King Kong could ever exist in real life?
Well, we have, and we’ve done all the scientific pondering so you don’t have to. In short, although there is a very tiny possibility that you could get a creature that size, evolution is likely to ensure that it will never come to pass.
Modern humans have been around for roughly 200,000 years, which means that they might have set eyes on the 3-meter-tall (10 feet) Gigantopithecus blacki. Paleontologists think that this is the largest primate to have ever lived, but sadly, this scary-looking beast died out around 100,000 years ago for being a fussy eater during a time of environmental chaos.
The King Kong of Skull Island is 10 times the size of G. blacki – he’s around 30.5 meters (100 feet) tall, which we are reliably informed is the second-tallest incarnation, after appearing in the 1962 flick, King Kong vs. Godzilla, where he was scaled up to make the fight a bit fairer (and is set to be again in the upcoming remake of that film in 2020).
Paleontology provides some good news for those hoping for a genuine reenactment of any of these movies – some truly massive creatures have indeed roamed the planet.
Take Dreadnoughtus schrani, for example, whose genus name aptly means “fear nothing.” This herbivorous long-necked titanosaur, which lived around 85 million years ago, was 26 meters (85 feet) long, 6 meters (20 feet) tall at its shoulder, and weighed 38.2 tonnes (42.1 tons).
An adult blue whale. NOAA
It’s thought to be the most massive dinosaur that ever roamed the planet, and no predator could take it down. Reptiles these days are nowhere near as big as their forebears, but fossil evidence suggests that under the right evolutionary pressures, they can become fairly massive.
Don’t forget that in today’s world, we have fully-grown adult Blue whales, which can average around 209 tonnes (230 tons), the most massive animal to have ever lived. So where’s our King Kong?