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.

The weekly recap (2021#15)

Crazy things happening in the world this week. The header image of this post (well, the one in the header is a copy) was sold for $1.36 million. This NFT stuff still goes over my head, but seems like is something that will stick around, whether it really makes sense to burn energy this way… anyway, all hail capitalism I guess. There have been quite a lot of news on the topic, if you are interested[1,2,3]

MindPong revisited

Really cool video from P. Nuyujukian, going into all the details of the latest advances shown by Neuralink last week. It really was like watching a movie director’s cut.

Look at that one!

Astonishing collection of science-related images, made by Nature each month

Brace yourselves, they are coming

I knew at some they would stop dancing…

The French army is testing Boston Dynamics’ robot dog Spot in combat scenarios, on theverge.com

The end of paywalls on papers?

It seems we crossed the point of no return in going open-access, but is is not clear at all which is going to be the final model. An interesting debate is ongoing, as many institutions are pushing for making every public research publicly available, but that often interferes with journal publishers. You can read a nice piece on the topic here:

A guide to Plan S: the open-access initiative shaking up science publishing, on nature.com

Technologies that shaped music

Really cool video by Rick Beato on 20 inventions that revolutionized music. While I would have added some (I cannot believe mp3 and microphones did not make into the list!), the video is a nice take on the history of music.

Get out of here, stalker!

The film that keeps on giving. OpenCulture posted this week a video I did not know about on the history behind the movie. Really interesting.

The Story of Stalker, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Troubled (and Even Deadly) Sci-Fi Masterpiece, on openculture.com

And that’s it for the week. Stay safe!