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Boffins hop onto King Kong bandwagon

Giant apes? It's all true-ish

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Scientists have jumped neatly onto the King Kong bandwagon by offering amazing-ish insights into the truth behind the giant ape myth, Reuters reports.

No, it's not that any film left unsequeled for long enough will eventually re-emerge from the cutting room as a bloated, three-hour monster, but rather that "animals on islands often evolve into gigantic versions of their mainland kin".

Examples? Try three-metre Komodo dragons (Indonesia) for starters, before running screaming to the South Atlantic's Gough Island, where monster mice - three times the size of their non-Gough ancestors, who probably jumped ship from whaling and other vessels - are eating defenceless one-metre high albatross chicks for breakfast.

Disappointingly, though, the experts are unable to offer us anything quite as impressive as Kong. The World Wildlife Fund's global species program supremo, Sue Lieberman, told Reuters: "There is a whole body of research on islands which suggests gigantism occurs on them, but, of course, nothing on the scale of King Kong.

"There is evidence that this happens because of isolation and a lack of competition. The further an island is from the mainland, the more potential there is for the evolution of new species," she concluded.

Which would explain why the Isle of Wight - a short ferry hop from Blighty's sceptred isle - is as yet unmenaced by gargantuan lizard monsters and bird-eating mice and, as a result, Hollywood film directors bearing enormous special effects budgets. ®

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