• Server Outage Announcement

    Hello, Everyone.
    We will be installing an update to XenForo (the forums software), and doing some server maintenance.
    Consequently, the forums will be unavailable from about 12 - 2 MDT / 2 - 4 EDT / 6 - 8 GMT on Sunday 9th May 2021.

King Kong Island Home Is Pure Fantasy, Ecology Experts Say

ramonmercado

CyberPunk
Joined
Aug 19, 2003
Messages
52,219
Reaction score
27,797
Points
309
Location
Eblana
King Kong Island Home Is Pure Fantasy, Ecology Experts Say

Stefan Lovgren
for National Geographic News

December 14, 2005
The massive star of the new movie King Kong, which opens today, effectively apes real gorillas. But the bizarre assortment of wildlife on the creature's island home seems to be from out of this world.

As seen in the remake of the 1933 film classic, Skull Island is supposed to lie somewhere in the Indian Ocean.


In the island's jungles roam a wide array of dinosaurs, including Tyrannosaurus rex; aggressive, 3-foot (90-centimeter) cockroaches; bloodthirsty car-size crabs; and, of course, Kong, a 25-foot-tall (8-meter-tall) silverback gorilla who lives alone in his mountain hideaway.

It's a world that violates most of modern science's evolutionary rules.

"The notion that dinosaurs could survive on a tiny mid-oceanic island is preposterous," said John Terborgh, a professor of environmental science at Duke University in Raleigh, North Carolina.

"Islands, even moderately large ones, are notoriously devoid of large predators," he said. "The two largest predators on Cuba are a lizard and the red-tailed hawk. The whole notion of apex predators on islands is fantasy."

Island Laboratory

The giant gorilla presumably evolved in isolation on Skull Island, though this is never explained in the movie.

Islands, as Charles Darwin said, appear to be nature's laboratory, where experiments are carried out with species that travel from the mainland.

"The first experiment is titled, Can you survive on this place that is different in every way from the mainland or other island from whence you came?" marine science expert Dennis Kelly said. "Most species probably do not survive this experiment."

But those that do survive often change over time to fill an ecological niche that exists on those islands.

"If a species is small—usually very small—it can actually increase in size [via a phenomenon] called gigantism," said Kelly, a professor at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, California.

California's Santa Cruz Island scrub jay, for example, is up to a third larger than mainland jays.

"[But they can't grow] by too much … due to the often limited resources and space on any island," Kelly said.


Other species, such as the tiny island fox of California's Santa Rosa Island, may shrink—a trend known as dwarfism.

In the process of growing larger or smaller, a few species may change their basic structures—birds may become flightless, for example. But no species would grow as huge as director Peter Jackson's great ape.

"Kong is obviously not a realistic representation of an island species," said Stanley Temple, a wildlife ecology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Primates don't often get to remote islands.

"I can think of no evolutionary advantage for an island primate to become larger than its ancestor," he added. In fact, the opposite would be more likely.

"Think about the small Homo species recently discovered," Temple said, referring to the "hobbit" species of early human (Homo floresiensis) recently found on Flores Island in Indonesia.

(See "Hobbit-Like Human Ancestor Found in Asia.")

"Larger animals have smaller populations than smaller animals, so a population of giants on an island would be small in numbers and, hence, more vulnerable to extinction than a smaller-sized animal."

Many species are particularly vulnerable on islands because the animals have evolved in the absence of competitors, predators, and parasites and have thus lost their defenses.

Chest Beating

Granted, King Kong is not meant to be scientifically dissected. The filmmakers deliberately changed some of their animals' anatomies.

The T. rex, for example, has claws with three fingers instead of the scientifically correct two—an homage to the original movie, in which the dinosaur had an extra finger.

But the filmmakers did set out to portray King Kong himself as realistically as possible.

"It's based on a silverback gorilla, absolutely," Richard Taylor, the head creatures designer for the movie, said in a telephone interview from New Zealand, where his Weta workshop is based.

In the 1933 movie, Kong walks around on two feet, beating his chest with clenched fists. The modern Kong—like his real-life counterparts—walks on his knuckles and feet and beats his chest with cupped hands.

The new Kong, however, is shown standing straight up on his rear legs and beating his chest, something that a real gorilla can't do to the same extent.

Andy Serkis, who played Gollum in the Lord of the Rings movies, was outfitted with motion sensors to provide the movement and voice for Kong. He also, with the help of 132 sensors, controlled the ape's facial expressions.

To learn how mountain gorillas walk, communicate, and interact, Serkis studied gorillas in one of their natural habitats in Rwanda.

(Read a National Geographic Adventure magazine interview with Serkis.)

Like Kong, real-life male silverback gorillas are fiercely protective of their females and young. If confronted by a hunter, silverbacks may stay behind and position themselves between the hunter and the fleeing gorilla family.

Frans de Waal is a primatologist at Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Atlanta, Georgia. He says Kong appears "more humanlike than gorillalike," based on the movie previews he has seen.

"The few scenes I have seen have too much direct eye contact by King Kong," de Waal said. "Gorillas almost never stare straight into the eyes of anybody."

Then there is the distinctive gorilla odor.

"The film audience misses out on this," de Waal said. "[It] must be powerful coming from an oversized gorilla. I'm curious if the girl [played by Naomi Watts] will faint."

Kong
 

gordonrutter

Within reason
Staff member
Joined
Aug 3, 2001
Messages
5,468
Reaction score
8,857
Points
309
So - a fictional film has taken a few liberties with reality. Imagine that.

Gordon
 

Rubyait

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Sep 10, 2004
Messages
1,187
Reaction score
8
Points
54
I presume these remarks must be in response to some pretty silly questions.


"The notion that dinosaurs could survive on a tiny mid-oceanic island is preposterous,"
Er its a film.

The giant gorilla presumably evolved in isolation on Skull Island, though this is never explained in the movie.
How exciting would that be.

So - a fictional film has taken a few liberties with reality. Imagine that.

Gordon
Quite.
 

ramonmercado

CyberPunk
Joined
Aug 19, 2003
Messages
52,219
Reaction score
27,797
Points
309
Location
Eblana
i fell crushed by it actually. it was my dream to one day find such an island.

:cry:
 

stu neville

Commissioner.
Staff member
Joined
Mar 9, 2002
Messages
12,660
Reaction score
6,853
Points
309
Rubyait said:
The giant gorilla presumably evolved in isolation on Skull Island, though this is never explained in the movie.
Actually (I just saw it), it is alluded to. At one point, Adrien Brodie's character is climbing a mountainside and comes across the skeleton of a giant gorilla. So Kong may be the last one, or maybe not, but there have been others.

And how many dinosaur species have been extrapolated on the basis of a single bone? Quite a few.

Doncha just love selective science?
 

Vardoger

I'm #1 so why try harder
Joined
Jun 3, 2004
Messages
6,130
Reaction score
5,635
Points
309
Location
Scandinavia
King Kong Island Home Is Pure Fantasy, Ecology Experts Say
Too bad. I've always thought there was an island somewhere which could have giant apes on it.
:? :roll:
 

GNC

King-Sized Canary
Joined
Aug 25, 2001
Messages
32,135
Reaction score
19,476
Points
309
A bunch of killjoys, these scientists.
 

Rubyait

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Sep 10, 2004
Messages
1,187
Reaction score
8
Points
54
I've just re-read this again and i also feel i need to add..

:lol:
 

ramonmercado

CyberPunk
Joined
Aug 19, 2003
Messages
52,219
Reaction score
27,797
Points
309
Location
Eblana
And now the spoilsports hold forth on the physics of Kong.

IT'S TIME FOR Godzilla vs. Konga classic battle between two impossibly giant creatures. I've only seen the trailer, and it looks like a fun movie. But movies aren't just for fun, they are also for physics. In particular, this is a great chance to consider the physics of scale—what happens when we make small things into big things? For instance, what happens if you take a normal gorilla and make him into a giant gorilla and then you name him King Kong?

If we want to see what happens when you have a giant gorilla, the first thing is to find out how tall he is. Oh sure, I could just look this value up somewhere—but that's not fun. Instead, I'm going to see if I can estimate his size based on just what I can see from the trailer. I love the challenge of just using a trailer. It's sort of like real science. Sometimes you have to struggle to get some nice data, and other times, boom, it's just there. In this case, I'm lucky. There's a shot of Kong and Godzilla both standing on an aircraft carrier. Assuming this is a Nimitz-class carrier, I can use the size of it (around 330 meters) to measure Kong.

This gives a rough height of 102 meters—since it's just an estimate, I'm going to go with 100 meters. Oh, it looks like Godzilla's tail is around 110 meters long. Wow.

OK, I need another assumption. Let's say that Kong is made of the same stuff as a regular-size gorilla. I will also assume that Kong is the same basic shape as a normal gorilla—you know, both animals have legs that are the same ratio to their total height, and the width of their arms compared to the total height is the same. I mean, it looks that way, right? He looks just like a big gorilla.

If Kong is a big gorilla, then he would have the same density as a gorilla—where we define density as the total mass divided by the volume. But what's the volume of a gorilla? Actually, we don't need to know that. Instead, let's just use an easy shape like a cylinder. Suppose I have two cylinders of different size, but with the same proportions (radius to length ratio). ...

https://www.wired.com/story/how-strong-is-king-kong-could-he-stand-up/
 

gordonrutter

Within reason
Staff member
Joined
Aug 3, 2001
Messages
5,468
Reaction score
8,857
Points
309
And now the spoilsports hold forth on the physics of Kong.

IT'S TIME FOR Godzilla vs. Konga classic battle between two impossibly giant creatures. I've only seen the trailer, and it looks like a fun movie. But movies aren't just for fun, they are also for physics. In particular, this is a great chance to consider the physics of scale—what happens when we make small things into big things? For instance, what happens if you take a normal gorilla and make him into a giant gorilla and then you name him King Kong?

If we want to see what happens when you have a giant gorilla, the first thing is to find out how tall he is. Oh sure, I could just look this value up somewhere—but that's not fun. Instead, I'm going to see if I can estimate his size based on just what I can see from the trailer. I love the challenge of just using a trailer. It's sort of like real science. Sometimes you have to struggle to get some nice data, and other times, boom, it's just there. In this case, I'm lucky. There's a shot of Kong and Godzilla both standing on an aircraft carrier. Assuming this is a Nimitz-class carrier, I can use the size of it (around 330 meters) to measure Kong.

This gives a rough height of 102 meters—since it's just an estimate, I'm going to go with 100 meters. Oh, it looks like Godzilla's tail is around 110 meters long. Wow.

OK, I need another assumption. Let's say that Kong is made of the same stuff as a regular-size gorilla. I will also assume that Kong is the same basic shape as a normal gorilla—you know, both animals have legs that are the same ratio to their total height, and the width of their arms compared to the total height is the same. I mean, it looks that way, right? He looks just like a big gorilla.

If Kong is a big gorilla, then he would have the same density as a gorilla—where we define density as the total mass divided by the volume. But what's the volume of a gorilla? Actually, we don't need to know that. Instead, let's just use an easy shape like a cylinder. Suppose I have two cylinders of different size, but with the same proportions (radius to length ratio). ...

https://www.wired.com/story/how-strong-is-king-kong-could-he-stand-up/
He ends up saying “and that would ruin the fun of the whole movie”. I think you’ve already tried to go down that route! He also blows it when he says in the first paragraph
But movies aren't just for fun, they are also for physics.
No they’re not, that’s some documentaries.
 
Top