Godzilla – Biology of a Hyper-Evolved Theropod – The Science of Scaling or, Size Matters!

Godzilla is a periodic meme which some movie company brings back whenever they run out of new ideas – which seems to be almost always.


GODZILLA X KONG THE NEW EMPIRE was released at the end of March. Never heard of it? Neither had I but it is already the second-highest earning film of 2024.

Aside from the eternal WHY posed by the production of any sequel, is just how could such a creature exist in Earth’s environment?

The wider question is just how does the real world of science fit with either giant or miniature versions of animals or people.

Godzilla – A Sea Creature

As a sea creature, indicated by her introduction to the world where she first appeared in the ocean in the 1954 movie, GodzIlla could easily grow to large size. In fact, Gojira, the original name (as close as you can come in English since it was originally in Japanese) combines two Japanese characters, one meaning GORILLA and the other (鯨 Kujira) WHALE. But just because she (lays eggs, remember?) developed while supported by the buoyancy in water doesn’t mean she could walk out of Tokyo Harbor and stomp the city to rubble.

Or, in the latest version, camp out and nest in Madison Square Garden starring Matthew Broderick best known as Ferris Bueller in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” a movie based just as much in reality as Godzilla.

Altered size was a major theme of many 1950s science fiction movies whether it was giant people, giant spiders, giant lizards, or, at the opposite end, miniaturized people. These were almost always blamed on nuclear accidents.

Godzilla – The Nuclear Threat

If you think about it, Godzilla helped bring about global warming by scaring people about new science they weren’t equipped to understand. How could they be, U.S. high schools never taught science even to those few who took the college prep path.

The constant story lines showing how dangerous nuclear power was probably the biggest disservice the U.S. movie and TV industries ever did to the country because it made so many people afraid of nuclear power plants despite their incredible safety record in both the U.S. and France.

(Can you name a single person who died as a result of radiation exposure from a civilian US nuclear power plant? I know you can’t because it never happened and I’ve seen people die in coal mines.)

godzilla x kong new empire theropod, youtube screenshot
godzilla x kong new empire, youtube screenshot

Godzilla and Biology of the 50 Foot Woman

Whether we are talking about Godzilla or a 50-foot woman (centerfold/cheerleader, etc., I call them collectively Eve 2.0), we are faced with some basic biology that is necessarily ignored by movie makers. Of course we know they can ignore obvious problems when we see the casting of comedian Matthew Broderick (Wargames and Ferris Bueller) as a semi-hero in a monster movie!

We all probably feel intuitively that there is something basically wrong with increasing the height of a woman by 10 times or shrinking Raquel Welsh to cellular size (Fantastic Voyage), but just what science, if any, is involved when you scale up or scale down a biological entity?

Scaling up is conceptually easy, just eat a lot and add more mass.

But what about shrinking a body? Do cells decrease in size? If so, how? Do you remove every other atom/molecule thereby reducing the mass? Do the atoms themselves shrink i.e. the distance between the electron shells and the nuclei decreases (which means the mass would stay the same)? Or does the distance between atoms in molecules shrink (again mass is constant)? Do cell surface areas alter the way they process energy? Does muscle increase or decrease in size and strength? How about signals between nerves, either between the spinal cord and the limbs or within the brain?

In any of the scenarios where the mass remains the same you quickly approach a size/mass ratio where the density would cause the body to fall through any conceivable physical support, plunging the body to the Earth’s core.

(NOTE: Throughout this report I refer to Godzilla as “she” because there are no obvious external sex organs, and I believe in strong female characters in cinema, not, as some people might think, because only a female could get that angry over something as minor as having her undersea home disturbed by a hydrogen bomb. As the infamous quote from Species (I) had it, as Ben Kingsley said of Sil, “we decided to make it female so it would be more docile and controllable.” Whereupon the “hunter” asked Kingsley’s character if he had been out much recently.)

Godzilla and The Math

Yes Virginia, there really is a use for geometry in real life.

As with most things in life as we approach the bottom line it all comes down to the math. I often think that the ability to use math and more importantly, to possess a basic grasp of just how important math really is, could be the basic definition of what makes a scientific mind.

So many people today are actually proud of their ignorance which explains a lot about the magnitude of trouble the human race is currently facing with ever increasing carbon pollution and refusal to get vaccinations.

(The latter is actually a long-term advantage because it will eventually reduce the number of people completely ignorant of science.)

Since there is no “normal” size version of Godzilla and therefore we can’t look at how an increase in size affects the physics and biology of the creature, we’ll begin with a few calculations related to Eve 2.0, our 50-foot woman, comparing her to the regular size version.

To keep things simple let’s take as a basic assumption that Eve 2.0 was originally five feet tall so after the growth spurt she is now exactly 10 times taller. (“Attack of the 50-ft. Woman” 1958 Allison Hayes and “Attack of the 50-ft. CHEERLEADER” 1993 Daryl Hannah)

Setting aside the question of just how she gained the mass to go from a petite five feet to a statuesque 50 feet faster than you can say “Pork Beach Diet,” just consider the math involved at the most basic level.

At first glance it seems obvious; double the height and you double the mass, but it is not that simple. If you double the height of a solid object, you must also double the width and depth to keep the same shape.

Since there are three dimensions, when you double those you cube the volume. At the same time you only square the surface area, which has some serious consequences of its own.

If Eve 2.0 is made of the same meat and bones as her 5-foot version, she will have the same density and therefore her volume and weight will increase by 10^3 or 1000 times and given a petite 100 lbs at five feet, she would weigh a more substantial 100,000 pounds or 50 tons at 50 feet.

attack of the 50 foot cheerleader poster
Attack of the 50 foot cheerleader poster

How Does Eve 2.0 Measure Up?

Now let us look at Eve 2.0 in detail, starting at the bottom and working our way up her less than dainty frame. Those petite size 5 feet that were 9 inches long are now 90 inches long and proportionately wide. That sounds like a challenge to Ferragamo designers but the challenge is actually for Eve 2.0 whose feet have a surface area supporting her weight, which has squared in area while her weight has cubed.

That means when she is walking there are times when one relatively small foot must support her entire 50 tons. Running, as they are often shown, would put that weight just on the toes and ball of the foot – a crushing weight.

At pre-growth size each square inch of her foot only has to support about 3 pounds maximum when walking, and only 1.5 pounds when standing flat on both feet.

At 50 foot each foot must support about 27 pounds per square inch when walking. That’s the same pressure as a automobile car tire (27 p.s.i. isn’t far from the average tire pressure).

Would she be looking for Birkenstocks or perhaps a pair of fancy rhinestone studded Sandals? No, Eve 2.0 would be shopping for steel-reinforced concrete arch supports.

Moving up past her ankles we come to a true Achilles Heel – the tibia and fibula. Her leg bones are simply not strong enough to support her massive weight because the strength of a bone is proportional to its cross sectional area, which we know from above has only been squared while, once again, the weight it must support is cubed. That means the bone has 100 times more strength but is subjected to 1000 times more pressure, a sure recipe for a broken leg with every step.

Moving further up the legs, we have knee joints tendons and muscles, all of which are being asked to support 10 times more weight than before.

Hip joints come next but the same arguments apply so let’s move on to that six-pack any well-built model would be sporting. Consider how much muscle tone is required to hold in that enormous amount of gut – stomach, liver, kidneys, and intestines – the only large mass in the body not surrounded by some sort of bone cage.

Ascending further, we have the heart and lungs. The cardiovascular system is no longer able to pump blood to the head with a measly pressure equal to 50 mm of mercury (systolic 110 – 60 diastolic). Also, of course, the lungs have a surface area which is squared but must provide oxygen for the new cubed body mass.

As for her breasts, which are usually shown in a loosely tied shirt, Eve 2.0 had better be an “A” cup because her skin wouldn’t be strong enough to support 8,000-lb breasts – the skin would tear.

As for those beautiful blues, evidence from nature shows that a 50-foot woman would either have tiny, piggy-like eyes, or would be nearly blind. It works like this – the rods and cones of a retina are of a specific size because they must be a certain ratio related to the wavelengths of light in various visible colors.

It turns out that while a mouse has much smaller eyes than a human, the rods and cones are nearly the same size; there are just fewer of them and therefore mice see less acutely than people can but they will see approximately the same spectrum.

At the other end of the size scale, an elephant’s eye is tiny compared to its size, not really significantly larger than a human eye.

Apply this to Eve 2.0 and if her eyes are proportional to her face she would have massive vision problems.

In fact, the place in which Eve 2.0 would be most comfortable would be exactly where the average teen boy would prefer to see her – in a swimming pool or hot tub. The buoyancy of the water is necessary to relieve the strained skin and muscles as well as protect those bird-fragile bones.

But the hot tub idea presents another question, that of how much heat she generates internally (2,000 calories at five feet equals two million calories for the 50 foot incarnation bit then ONLY if she is relatively sedentary) and how her body gets rid of that heat.

Human skin radiates most of the body’s heat to keep the temperature at 98.6. Not so much of a problem for a cold blooded reptile such as Godzilla.

But for a human we once again run into the square vs. cube problem. The amount of heat which needs to be radiated is 1000 times greater but the skin’s surface area is only 100 times greater.

Eve 2.0 would LITERALLY be too hot to handle.

Historical Documentaries

In 1993 Daryl Hannah‘s character grew angry in the TV remake.of the 1958 original. Attack of the 50-foot Woman. Perhaps she was expecting Shakespeare or even Lysistrata – Aristophanes?

A blatantly exploitative documentary “Attack of the 50-Foot Cheerleader” in 2012 took advantage of a poor co-ed who suffered adverse side effects from a beauty enhancement drug she took in an effort to impress the cheerleading squad. This was produced by famed “documentary” filmmaker Roger Corman A.K.A. “The Pope of Pop Cinema” OR “The King of Cult.”

An earlier “documentary” produced by Corman in 1995 conclusively demonstrated the accuracy of the well-known proposition that centerfolds are superior in every way to ordinary women – note that while ordinary angry women were a mere 50 feet tall, the centerfold sports a more statuesque stature as indicated in the title “Attack of the 60-Foot Centerfold” with most of the additional 10 foot height predictably being in the legs.

While these movies show empowered (and powerful) domineering women, there is never any explanation of why they all seem so angry and want to “attack” as soon as they reach their full growth.

There has been some speculation that they are angry at discovering they now have to shave their legs with a lawn mower.

Nuclear Power, Getting Perspective – Three Mile Island