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I heard somewhere that King Kong would be much too large to climb at all. Elephants and hippopotami are extremely poor climbers. I know that éléphants are good swimmers but the same cannot be said to hippos.

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  • $\begingroup$ By "climb" you mean to vault easily like a small monkey (as it was pictured in movies), or ascend gradually using any technique? $\endgroup$ – Alexander Jan 28 at 0:16
  • $\begingroup$ Can you specify what a "real" King Kong would look like? How tall is he, and how does he bypass the square-cube law? The way he deals with his weight will inform how well he can climb or swim. $\endgroup$ – Zxyrra Jan 28 at 0:19
  • $\begingroup$ Could you please offer us a description of this creature that you refer to? 3 meters tall, 30 meters tall, 300 meters tall. Mass would also be helpful. Species also - Elephants and Hippopotami simply don't have fingers to climb with - does King Kong? Empire state building we know - which World Trade Center would you be referring to? $\endgroup$ – Tantalus' touch. Jan 28 at 0:20
  • $\begingroup$ I want to compare the four main versions: King Kong and Son of Kong (both 1933), King Kong and King Kong Lives (1976-1986), King Kong (2005) and Kong: Skull Island (2017). $\endgroup$ – mammifereviolet4694 Jan 28 at 0:26
  • $\begingroup$ Could you tell us about physical parameters of your creature? Unless this is a question about movies - in which case, well this could be the wrong site. You could try Movies & TV. You'd need to take their tour and read-up in their help center about how to ask on-topic questions. $\endgroup$ – Tantalus' touch. Jan 28 at 0:36
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How about the very real Gigantopithecus blacki?

This Ape could indeed climb if it desired to. Presuming suitable hand holds of course.

Even assuming a larger Ape, Ape's are evolved from climbing creatures. The only reason why they do not climb more, is that most tree branches are not strong enough to carry their weight.

In terms of trees, the upper-bound seems to be Orangutans (or Bosi lemur - if we are considering primates in general), which are not small, but are still restricted to the sturdier branches of the tree.


Elephants and Hippos are understandably poor climbers, they never evolved for that purpose.

Both of their ancestor though were aquatic, having sister families of highly adapted aquatic mammals (Dugongs/Mantaees for Elephants, Whales/Dolphins for Hippos). It also makes sense (evolutionary) that elephants are the better swimmers as the elephant's ancestors were further along the aquatic path than the hippo's ancestor when they diverged, and hippos have not had the need to develop further aquatically.

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  • $\begingroup$ I disagree that there is no reason to doubt that Kong could swim because animals can't just be scaled up while maintaining the same physiology. A movie-sized King Kong twenty times the size of a gorilla would have 20^3 times its weight but only 20^2 times its surface area (a rough estimate of muscle distribution) meaning it couldn't move, let alone swim. $\endgroup$ – Zxyrra Jan 28 at 1:31
  • $\begingroup$ I removed the part about swimming just as I removed the swim part of the question. One question per post is crucial for upvoting answers to be meaningful. $\endgroup$ – SRM Jan 28 at 1:38
  • $\begingroup$ @Zxyrra I highly doubt that a movie sized King Kong would have the same physiology. To reach such proportions I would expect a significantly lightening of the bones. Not to mention respiratory adaptions, changes in musculature, and some adjustments to body shape. These changes would probably restrict a range of motions. However my point was that such a creature would know how to swim, or be capable of learning. And the creature would be net buoyant is many water sources of enough depth that swimming even becomes an option, not unlike most mammals. $\endgroup$ – Kain0_0 Jan 28 at 1:53

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