As soon as you see the movie title Godzilla vs. Kong, you know you're not in for a legal showdown à la Kramer vs. Kramer or The People vs. Larry Flynt—you understand that the way the two titular characters will be pitted against one another will be violent. What if, though, instead of fighting one another, the two legendary monsters decided to settle their differences with a “who can do the biggest poo” competition? We asked some scientists to weigh in on the details to help us declare a winner.
In this corner: king kong
"Gorillas produce very large volumes of feces,” Dr. Cat Hobaiter, primate expert and lecturer at the University of St. Andrews’s Centre for Social Learning & Cognitive Evolution, tells Mental Floss. "They have a high-fiber diet and have to consume large quantities of often relatively low-nutrition plant matter to get the resources they need."
Gorilla poop is pretty interesting stuff; scientists use it to figure out everything from a gorilla’s diet to its stress levels. Gorillas evacuate their bowels every few hours; typically, a 6-foot-tall, 350-pound gorilla would produce about a half-pound of fecal material (the equivalent of a pretty substantial human bowel movement) with each go.
Kong is very, very big. According to stats put out by the movie’s official channels, he is 337 feet tall and, while no weight is given, in his last big-screen appearance—2017’s Kong: Skull Island, set in 1973 before Kong was fully grown—he was said to weigh 158 tons at a height of 104 feet. He’s tripled in height in that time, so, assuming his proportions have remained largely the same, that is likely to mean a 27-fold increase in weight, putting him somewhere in the region of 4226 tons now. A 350-pound gorilla poops several times a day, and each one weighs about 0.0016 percent of the animal's body weight; if Kong does that too, we should expect 6.6 tons of turd. We're looking at five poops a day, each one weighing more than an Apache helicopter.
And Kong won’t even look for a skyscraper to hide behind! Unlike some species of ape—Dr. Hobaiter tells us that chimpanzees, for example, don't like being watched while they defecate—gorillas aren't fussy about where they do their poos.
The challenger: godzilla
What about Godzilla? “I believe we can look to the reptile kingdom to think about what Godzilla's scat may look like,” Dr. David A. Steen, reptile and amphibian research leader of the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute and author of Secrets Of Snakes, tells Mental Floss. “Let's assume Godzilla is most similar to a giant carnivorous lizard, like a monitor lizard—a group of animals that includes Komodo dragons, the largest living lizard. These lizards will consume big but infrequent meals and may eventually throw up the indigestible bits, like horns and hair, and poop out what's left."
Lizards are capable of dropping mind-bogglingly large poops. Everyone remembers where they were in 2020 when they heard about the curly-tailed lizard in Florida who was mercifully put out of her misery while carrying a dense turd measuring 78.5 percent of her body weight, but she was an extreme case. If Godzilla—393 feet tall and weighing 99.6 tons—had that much poop in him, he certainly wouldn’t be walking upright.
Lizard poops aren’t like the ones humans do. "We get rid of our nitrogenous wastes through urine, but reptiles don't do that, they produce uric acid," Dr. Steen explains. "This uric acid is usually relatively solid and white, and appears as part of the feces.” To a layperson, a Komodo dragon's fecal matter looks a bit like bird poop—dark chunks in white gloop.
“Godzilla is a sea creature, so let's assume he's eating fish and various other soft-boned or hairless creatures,” Dr. Steen says. “I would think his feces would be slimy and watery, rather than solid chunks. Anyone that's kept a large lizard or snake as a pet before knows they often relieve themselves in their water dish, so I'd expect Godzilla to take care of business while he's submerged, resulting in a large oily slick."
And the winner is ...
Fecal frequency is tricky to work out. Komodo dragons, which are cold-blooded creatures with slow metabolisms, have been known to only poop 12 or so times a year. If that’s the case with Godzilla, it’s a big smelly gold medal for Kong. But within the world of paleontology, there is a debate over whether larger dinosaurs were truly cold-blooded (ectothermic) or warm-blooded (endothermic); one Nature paper from 2014 posits that they were somewhere in between, coining the term mesothermic. (The study of really huge animals’ body temperature is called, cheerfully, gigantothermy.)
Even with a metabolic rate significantly faster than a Komodo dragon's—and the ability to breathe fire suggests some fairly kooky biology—Godzilla’s poop frequency is likely to be significantly lower than Kong’s. Meaning that if they have a day to do as much poop as they want, the gorilla’s going to leave the lizard in the dust.
Although, let’s be honest: If Godzilla vs. Kong really were a “who can do the biggest poo?” competition, the real winner would be cinema.