How Godzilla Became A Giant According To Science

Gigantic, menacing and very dangerous, the “Kaiju” Godzilla has smashed and bashed his way from a nuclear allegory when Toho first introduced him into the big screen back in 1954 to the massive pop culture icon that he is today. Destroying cities and defeating equally outlandish enemies like Rodan, King Ghidora and even King Kong along the way, Godzilla has cemented himself as the biggest cinematic star in the monster-verse.

But even pop culture makes scientists curious, pushing them to ask: What’s the reason behind this gigantic lizard’s size? And could it possibly exist in real life?

Of course, there isn’t an easy answer to this. Godzilla, after all, only exists in the cinematic medium, and canon says he is a prehistoric sea monster empowered by nuclear radiation, making him grow in size.

In real life, however, researchers Nathaniel Dominy and Ryan Calsbeek believe that he could be a dinosaur. Or, more specifically, a ceratosaurid and a Lazarus taxon .

“[Godzilla] represents a sensational example of evolutionary stasis, second only to coelacanths among vertebrates,” the authors wrote in their new study. “Yet, the creature’s recent morphological change has been dramatic.” Of course, no dinosaur can be that big, radioactive or not.

All of this math is just done for kicks, since the authors concluded their paper with the supposed reason behind the king of the beast’s cinematic growth: art imitating life.

According to Dominy and Calsbeek, much like his creation, Godzilla’s growth is because of cultural anxiety, military aggression and mankind’s general recklessness. Like before, natural and political forces are still to blame.

“Godzilla is evolving in response to a spike in humanity’s collective anxiety,” they said. “Whether reacting to geopolitical instability, a perceived threat from terrorists, or simply fear of “the other,” many democracies are electing nationalist leaders, strengthening borders, and bolstering their military presence around the world.”

Thankfully, the films bring a lesson delivered to us time and again, one that says the only way to overcome these disasters brought about by giant lizards stomping our cities or not is by working together.

japan-952026_960_720 A statue of Godzilla overlooking people in Tokyo. Photo by Pixabay (CC0)