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Monday, July 21, 2014

Fun with STEM! Apes Misbehavin': A Zoologist Explains What Would Happen If Big-Screen Animals Attacked


By Ethan Alter

If the $73 million haul that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes pulled in over its opening weekend is any indication, there’s still a healthy public appetite for watching an Earth overrun by ape-kind. But what would an actual Planet of the Apes look like? And how could non-Charlton Heston humans even hope to fight back? For the answers, we turned to animal expert Jeff Musial, who has brought his expertise and menagerie of critters to such programs as Today and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. One note: Like all card-carrying animal lovers, Musial wants to make it clear that he’s firmly against hurting or killing any and all of our two-, four-, or eight-legged friends. But in the event that mankind really was facing extinction thanks to any of the following creatures, he’s willing to offer some tactical advice:

Creature: Apes

Film: Planet of the Apes Series (1968-2014)

What Happens in the Movie(s): Apes with heightened intelligence challenge mankind’s hold on the planet, eventually supplanting humans as Earth’s dominant species.

What Would Actually Happen: "It depends on what apes we’re talking about. Chimps, for example, are as strong as six men—they’re very powerful and very smart. Chimps like to remove faces, fingers, and male genitalia, so they can definitely put a hurting on you. I’ve seen one chimp that was under a year old bounce a guy’s head off the ground like a basketball! So full-grown chimps capable of using weapons and machinery? That would be a scary thing. And the movies actually make chimps seem more laid back than they actually are; real chimps are nowhere near as calm as they are in the Planet of the Apes films.”

Our Best Defense: "First and foremost, don’t let them out of their cages! But the Planet of the Apes is funny in that they show apes teaming up [to take over the world], and a lot of apes would not team up together; chimps and gorillas wouldn’t get along, and orangutans wouldn’t either. Instead of the Planet of the Apes, it would be the Planet of the Chimps, the Planet of the Gorillas, and the Planet of the Orangutans. So I’d recommend pitting ‘em against each other and then build an underground shelter to live in, with a backup stash of hand grenades for combat.”

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