My taste in monster movies tends to run toward the Young Frankenstein end of the genre. In other words, comedy. But it has been impossible to watch sports television during March Madness and miss the fact that the “greatest monster battle of them all” — the Battle of the Titans, if you will — has been made into a new movie. When an article about the movie included the words “functional morphologist” in the headline, along with promises to use science to pick a winner, I took the (click)bait.
As always, this Weekly Reader features links to recent articles that grabbed my interest or tickled my fancy. I hope you find something that makes you laugh, think, or cry.
Kiersten Formoso is a vertebrate paleontologist and functional morphologist at USC studying the land-to-sea evolutionary transition — where land vertebrates evolved to go back into aquatic environments. This includes living groups like whales, seals, manatees, and numerous extinct groups like mosasaurs, plesiosaurs, and ichthyosaurs. In The Conversation, Formoso, who also self-identifies as a “huge fan of monster movies,” uses her science smarts and love of the genre to write Godzilla vs. Kong: A functional morphologist uses science to pick a winner.
“Even the most fantastical creatures have some basis in scientific reality, so the natural world is a good place to look to better understand movie monsters. I study functional morphology – how skeletal and tissue traits allow animals to move – and evolution in extinct animals. I am also a huge fan of monster movies. Ultimately, this is a fight between a giant reptile and a giant primate, and there are relative biological advantages and disadvantages that each would have. The research I do on morphology and biomechanics can tell us a lot about this battle and might help you decide – #TeamGodzilla or #TeamKong?
Before she delves into the advantages and disadvantages of each monster, Formoso does want the reader to know that she’s not wacko.
“First it’s important to acknowledge that both Kong and Godzilla are definitely far beyond the realms of biological possibility. This is due to sheer size and the laws of physics. Their hearts couldn’t pump blood to their heads, they would have temperature regulation problems and it would take too long for nerve signals from the brain to reach distant parts of the body – to name just a few issues.
However, let’s assume that somehow Godzilla and Kong are able to overcome these size limitations – perhaps because of their radiation exposure they have distinctive mutations and characteristics. Based on how they look on the big screen, let’s explore the observable differences that might prove useful in a fight.“
It is a fun read, and she doesn’t let the movie ending affect her analysis. So, no spoilers here. You’ll have to read the whole article.
If you lead with Godzilla vs. Kong, one can’t get too serious with the other articles in this weekly collection. We’ll ditch the (serious) politics and look on the lighter side, beginning with the always clever Andy Borowitz. Writing for The New Yorker, Borowitz has figured out what’s behind Brian Kemp’s support for a new voter law in Georgia Governor Declares Water a Gateway Drug That Leads to Voting.
“’We’ve consulted a lot of studies on this,’ (Kemp) said. ‘People are much more likely to vote if they are under the influence of water.’”
I loved this article in the Washington Post by Cathy Free entitled This woman, 82, dresses to the nines each Sunday for virtual church. Her selfies have become legendary. The photographs with the story are fabulous. I’ve long been a fan of the book Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats which you may want to check out as well.
If you are like me and haven’t really followed the Harry and Meghan vs. The Royal Family drama (something like Godzilla vs. Kong, I hear), then you can catch up with K.E. Flann‘s update in The Weekly Humorist entitled The Daily Mail: Discomfort With Our Centuries-Old Breeding Program a Sign of Poor Breeding.
“Let us be clear. We condemn racism. We extend sympathies to our former colonies, where we hear racism and humidity both occur with disgusting regularity. Here at home, we don’t see racial differences. That’s because there are none – not in elite schools, large corporations, the tabloid press corps, and certainly not the monarchy. Only racist people see race, and we simply cannot envision ourselves seeing it.
We stand by our journalistic integrity. We have plumbed the depths to identify why the divorced, American commoner who married into the curated gene pool of our ceremonial oligarchy is so “grating.” Thus far, our reporting suggests that the Duchess of Sussex is “not the right sort,” which is a character flaw and unrelated to our selective breeding program that involves a handful of church-sanctioned, aristocratic, Northern European families.“
Let’s end with Catherine Durkin Robinson‘s piece in Medium that touches on how tired we all are of being in lockdown: For The Second Year Of Quarantine, Our Family Agrees That The Following Truths Are Self-Evident And No Longer Up For Discussion.
When Mommy’s Lizzo shirt can walk around by itself — that’s when it’s laundry day.
Low sodium pasta sauce is passive-aggressive bullshit.
An executive-level decision no one agrees to is fascism.“
And the one that hits home for me…
“‘Unsubscribe’ is no way to answer Daddy’s text messages.”
Have a good week reading.
More to come…
Image: Godzilla vs. Kong movie poster