I've got these 2 giant apes like creatures who are too heavy to go on the ship to be taken to another continent. What are some ways that they could possibly get across the sea? This is a medieval epic fantasy so I can't really fly them etc.. My apes are 12 feet tall and weigh 18,000 kg. They have to travel 510.8 km oversea, going from a desert like climate to and normal spring like one.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding.SE! We're glad you could join us! When you have a moment, please click here to learn more about our culture and take our tour. Could you add some clarifying detail to your question (use the edit link)? Is the use of ships of any size 100% excluded? Is there no magic? What are the limits of your question (I assume cutting them up into small pieces wouldn't meet your needs, but you don't say). Questions need to be as objective and detailed as possible or they'll be closed. Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Nov 28, 2018 at 6:26
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding! Could you provide a little more details? How large are these creatures? How far would they have to travel? A large creature would probably have a large diet; provision for a long journey might be another "huge" issue. $\endgroup$ Nov 28, 2018 at 6:28
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    $\begingroup$ Medieval cargo ships were capable of carrying over 100 tonnes (needs confirmation), more than enough for two of your apes. Are the animals loved or revered; i.e. do the people have any qualms with caging them and chaining them immobile? Are there people beyond the crew involved, or is transporting the animals your only purpose? $\endgroup$ Nov 28, 2018 at 7:43
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    $\begingroup$ 18 tons is - in my opinion - way too heavy. Elephants are about 12 feet high, and don't weigh more than 7 tons. $\endgroup$
    – Erik
    Nov 28, 2018 at 8:33
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    $\begingroup$ The Romans were capable, using the seafaring technologies that they had , of moving stone obelisks weighing hundreds of tonnes from Egypt to Rome.en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_obelisks_in_Rome To reiterate what others have already said in a medieval setting your apes are no where near too heavy to travel by ship, $\endgroup$
    – Sarriesfan
    Nov 28, 2018 at 11:15

3 Answers 3


Ancient undersea tunnels.



In your world, there are learned individuals who are aware that there exist tunnels built by a prior civilization. Half-drunken intrepids claim to have used these tunnels to traverse the oceans by travelling beneath them, and one of these was in possession of a crude map. Some of the symbols scrawled on this map defy explanation but the gist is clear: the tunnels cross the ocean.

This is how you move your apes. They travel willingly on foot, comfortable with their keepers and the treats they are given as inducement.

Everyone knows that ancient tunnels are full of monsters. And the only thing better than ancient tunnel monsters is having giant apes show up to battle them!

  • $\begingroup$ This is an amazing solution! I had no idea! thank you thank you! $\endgroup$
    – Beginner
    Nov 28, 2018 at 21:04
  • $\begingroup$ Great idea. Very much like "The Ways" in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. wot.wikia.com/wiki/Ways $\endgroup$ Nov 28, 2018 at 21:14
  • $\begingroup$ You may have some near the entrance, but there are no monsters in the tunnels under the sea : what would they eat? $\endgroup$
    – user38304
    Dec 5, 2018 at 7:17
  • $\begingroup$ @castor - Giant penguins, if memory serves. hplovecraft.com/writings/texts/fiction/mm.aspx $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Dec 5, 2018 at 13:44

Chain of islands

Cuba is 1000 km from South America, and Hispanola is 600 km. Yet, both of these islands got giant ground sloths from South America in the Oligiocene, long before the sloths got to North America (which is closer to Cuba).

How did they get to these distance islands?

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Lots of little islands! Going 500 km in one swim is a tough ask for a land creature, but a bunch of smaller hops is more obviously feasible.

While the sloths that actually spread to cuba were smaller, some ground sloths were very large and could stand 12 feet tall, though not as heavy (although 18 tons is very very large for a land animal...)



It has been estimated, using the square cube law that a 24 foot 1930s King Kong would weigh around 15,500 kg. Your ape is 12 feet tall and weighs 18,000 kg.

Clearly your apes are either extremely obese or extremely dense (in terms of mass not intelligence!).

Tow them

If they are obese to that extent then they aren't going to be able to move at all. I suggest you simply immobilise their arms and tow them to wherever you are going. They'll float easily with a harness fitted with floats and weights to keep them the right way up.They may hate it but what are they going to do?

If they are extremely dense then no wonder they don't like water - they would sink immediately! This also explains why boats aren't a good idea. If they move around too much they're going to tip most medieval craft over.

Walk them

If they are denser than water and not allowed to go on boats, the only option is to provide some sort of breathing apparatus and walk them along the sea-bed. Blindfold them and accustom them to the water gradually.

Water skiing

This is rather unlikely but if they are intelligent enough to learn, it might just be possible. They could rest at night by floating. A trireme shouldn't have too much trouble pulling them at a decent speed. https://youtu.be/e131NJWTeuE?t=36

When I have some time I'll do the actual square-cube law calculations. There is a likelihood that the body structure won't be able to support them unless they have a special kind of muscle tissue hitherto unknown.

Square–cube law This principle states that, as a shape grows in size, its volume grows faster than its surface area. When applied to the real world this principle has many implications which are important in fields ranging from mechanical engineering to biomechanics. It helps explain phenomena including why large mammals like elephants have a harder time cooling themselves than small ones like mice, and why building taller and taller skyscrapers is increasingly difficult.


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    $\begingroup$ A mammal crossing 510.8 km under water seems unlikely without magical aid. Even if breathing is achieved by some tech, the sea bed is uneven and unpredictable; they might have to withstand currents; whether they'll survive the pressure at greater depths for prolonged periods is suspect; sea predators; Cthulu. The depths be a nasty place. $\endgroup$ Nov 28, 2018 at 18:23
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    $\begingroup$ If they can't go by ship or by air then apart from Willk's tunnels I don't see what's left apart from (a) acting as their own sea-vessel or (b) underwater. If they are as dense as the measurements suggest then I imagine they have superman-like qualities. In that case sea predators would have reason to fear them! $\endgroup$ Nov 28, 2018 at 19:18
  • $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK thank you! so i've changed the weight, my apes are 14 feet and weight 400 kg / 62 stones? $\endgroup$
    – Beginner
    Nov 28, 2018 at 21:18

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