Is the iconic movie monster King Kong real? He was according to scientists. Of course, the King Kong that fought dinosaurs and climbed the Empire State Building is the stuff of fiction. But scientists say that a giant, King Kong-like ape did once exist.
The closest thing to King Kong that ever walked the earth was a monstrous primate called Gigantopithecus (meaning "giant ape"), which thrived for millions of years before going extinct about 100,000 years ago.
The first fossilized remains of Gigantopithecus were discovered in 1935 -- two years after the first King Kong film terrorized American audiences. Based on those remains, scientists hypothesize that the real-life Kong would've stood about 10 feet tall and weighed approximately 1,100 pounds. Admittedly, that's a fraction of the fictional Kong's stature, but Gigantopithecus is still the largest ape the world has ever seen.
And like the original Kong, he may have even been bipedal.
But that's where the similarities between the prehistoric and fictional species ends. Gigantopithecus was more closely related to the orangutan than the gorilla, and it's fur may have been more reddish-brown than black.
And Gigantopithecus didn't live on the mythical Skull Island. Fossils of the hulking ape were found in modern day China, Thailand and Vietnam.
He also didn't get [SPOILER ALERT] killed by biplanes. According to recent research, Gigantopithecus went extinct because of his diet. The massive herbivore required a lot of vegetation to survive. So when the dense forests that it called home slowly turned into a grassy savanna due to climate change, Gigantopithecus was no longer fit to survive.
So the real-life King Kong is gone, but his spiritual descendent lives on in film. And in cannabis culture. The cannabis strain King Kong is an indica-dominant hybrid that relaxes consumers without putting them to sleep. Might be the perfect thing to puff before seeing 'Kong: Skull Island', which opens this weekend.