Godzilla vs Kong: some of the science behind
Recently I saw Godzilla vs Kong. I was expecting a lot of action between those two, and the movie delivered (in fact, there was not much else to see there). While is was a nice action movie to turn your brain off, there were some things that I really liked in the way they portrayed a great ape such as Kong. I am not going to enter in the topic on how big both Godzilla and Kong are, and if that is realistic or not. I already discussed the topic on cienciaoficcion.com some time ago (in Spanish).
There were two things that I liked that might be not so well-known for a lot of people: Kong using sign language and an axe. I am going to cover both in this article.
Great Apes Using Sign Language
While there are many videos on monkeys using sign language, I find the topic extremely interesting because as of today there is no clear consensus on whether great apes are really using language or they just learn some meaning by repetition/observation. In the movie, we can clearly see Kong communicating with a deaf girl, and those scenes seemed totally plausible to me (of course, just taking into account the communication process, and not the gigantic ape thing).
This is something that has been studied for decades now, and there seems to be a lot of data that indicates that there is something else besides imitation/repetition. You can see some examples of the actions that a great ape can do in the following links:
The Chimp That Learned Sign Language, on NPR.com
Great Ape Language, on wikipedia.org
Monkeys using tools
The second cool thing I want to talk about is how Kong throws a spear or swings an axe (and it really looks cool on the movie).
We can even see how he builds the spear by removing the branches of a big tree, and also how he sharpens one of the extremes. This exact behaviour has been widely reported on several primates. Of course, not for destroying a giant dome, but just to hunt for food or to collect water. You can see some really nice examples on the following videos, and some pictures on how a bonobo uses a hand-made stick to hunt for termites.
And that’s it for the film. Of course there is much more there that’s cool to see (I am not going to make any spoilers here), and while some might see it and never think about it afterwards, it is a cool movie to watch and not think about anything else for a couple hours, which given current state of the world is something to thank for, I think.