Note: This essay is a tribute to the book,
“World of Kong: A Natural History of Skull Island” by Weta Workshop, published
2005 by Pocket Books, which in turn is based upon and derived from both
the original King Kong and Son of Kong movies of the 1930s, and upon Peter
Jackson’s King Kong remake of 2005. Each is an extraordinary
work in and of itself. This essay is devoted to exploring and extending
certain of the ideas contained in these remarkable works.
“Giant stone ruins of this ancient society
dotted the entire island. Vast edifices jutted from the shrouding
jungle and tumbled down the coat to disappear into the sea. Beneath
the tangled forest that enveloped the island in a choking green embrace,
a great city had once breathed.” (Page 18)
King Kong’s Skull Island is home to a vanished civilization now known only
by a series of megalithic ruins. Who were these people?
Where did they come from? How did they live?
“Study of these remains and of the great
wall itself - which had run in an unbroken circle around the entire center
portion of the island - told of a culture three thousand years old.
Architectural parallels suggested Southeast Asia as a homeland.”
Unfortunately, most of these questions cannot be answered with any certainty.
Instead, we can only look to the information that we have before us to
see what we can make of it.
First, the Skull Island people were not indigenous to Skull Island.
Well, that’s sort of a no-brainer. In one sense, Aborigines are not
indigenous to Australia, Maori not indigenous to New Zealand, etc. etc..
Everyone originally came from somewhere else. The world was
largely explored and settled by hunter gatherer tribes.
Skull Island is certainly not any kind of candidate for birthplace of
the human race. The zoological fauna of Skull Island includes
almost no mammals, and certainly no higher primates or apes. It is
dominated by survivals from the Jurassic and Cretaceous, and by species
who have essentially ‘rafted’ in. It was never a place originally
settled by hominids.
Indeed, the current aboriginal population of Skull Island survives only
by sitting behind a protective wall. So its unlikely that any hunter/gatherer
culture could have made it to Skull Island and establish itself.
Whatever the original Skull Island society was, they were certainly
not hunter/gatherers. Indeed, the evidence is that they were quite
advanced when they reached the Island. There are various clues.
For one thing, they seem to have imported at least two other major species
with them: The bovine Gaur or oxen:
“A most curious member of the Skull Island
menagerie, and a regular on the menu for Venatosaurus, was a species of
tall cattle called Gaur. Quite obviously a recent arrival, Skull
Island’s Gaur was almost identical to a mainland Asiatic species, suggesting
that it may have been imported to the island some time in the last thousand
years or so by a previous civilization originating on the continent.
The logical assumption would be that this same civilization built the great
wall and the many ruins scattered through the forest of Skull Island.”
As well as the giant apes themselves:
“The origin of Kong’s species is as obscure
as Skull Island itself, but what seems certain is that his kind arrived
no earlier than a few thousand years ago and were not native to the island.
Ape effigy bearing ruins abounded, supporting the theory of Kong’s kin
being revered by the ancient people of the land. Perhaps the apes
were also bred by them? Perhaps they were brought with the ancient
colonists from some lost empire in Asia.... (Pages 212-213)
The oxen were clearly a domesticated species, the apes possibly so.
Neither of these animals, even as juveniles, was going to be carried on
an extended ocean voyage in a simple dugout canoe. We can assume
therefore, that the water craft of the Skull Island people was probably
quite large. They were sophisticated boatbuilders who built large
and carried large and delicate cargo.
Domesticated oxen also tell us something about them. They were
not hunter gatherers, obviously. Domesticated oxen tell us
that they practiced agriculture, which also implies crops and other domesticated
plant and animal species. It tells us that they used animal
power to enhance their manpower, that their ‘animal-powered’ agriculture
probably supported a reasonably high level of technology, population and
In short, these were not idle travelers, but rather, at the outset,
before they ever got to Skull Island, they were an advanced and quite sophisticated
people, with some real accomplishments.
“It was theorized that ancient colonists
brought with them an established culture, as evidenced by the great carved
statues and shards of magnificent pottery left behind.” (Page 18)
And, they had some connection to Kong. How do we know this?
Two reasons. There is the recurring motif of the great apes
in the art and decoration of the Skull Island civilization.
Ape faces occur frequently, where human or animal faces do not. Clearly,
the apes had some major totemic significance to these people.
Given this level of significance, it is likely that there is a connection
between the humans and apes, two anomalous species on the island.
“They were a devoted culture who revered
the giant apes that abounded throughout their art. Some have speculated
that the apes may have arrived with the colonists, alluding to a symbiosis
between the people and the ancestors of Kong.” (Page 18)
Then there is the fact that Kong and his race were biological anomalies
on Skull Island, there were no other giant mammals, no other advanced primates,
and there was simply no evolutionary history or context to support the
Kongs being there naturally. They obviously couldn’t swim,
they were too big to raft, so they had to have been brought over.
Since the oxen were also likely brought over, it seems reasonable to assume
that the Kongs were part of the package.
This tells us that, in all likelihood, Kongs or giant apes were a well
established or entrenched part of the Skull Island Culture before they
got to Skull Island.
And here is where our problems start. There is no historical
or archeological or palentological record whatsoever of giant apes anywhere
near the scale of the Kong species.
There is a palentological record of a giant ape called Gigantopithecus.
But Gigantopithecus, by the absolute best estimates stood no taller than
10 feet and weighed in at 1500 pounds, and many estimates have him smaller
and lighter. The Kongs weighed in at least 18 to 25 feet,
and an absolute minimum of 10,000 pounds or five tons. They may have
stood 50 feet erect and weighed in as much as 60,000 pounds.
Even assuming that the Kongs were bred upwards for size, their forebears
probably were not smaller than 5000 pounds, which simply put them orders
of magnitude beyond Gigantopithecus.
In any event, not only is there no record of Kongs on the mainland,
but there is no record of any known human culture associating with giant
apes, either Kongs or Gigantopithecus. Certainly the skeletons
of the giant apes are so remarkable, and the ape-iconography of the culture
is so distinctive it would be impossible to miss.
So, what we are dealing with here, is an advanced but completely unknown
human civilization of unknown provenance. Who were these people,
where did they get those apes? Why isn’t there any record of them
and their apes?
The problem is that Asia is not terra incognita. In the
estimated time period of Skull Island Culture, three thousand years ago
there were several organized, ancient and literate cultures, from the Persians
and Arabs, to the Hindu, the Burmese, Siamese, Khmer, Malay, Chinese and
Japanese in Asia which knew their coasts pretty thoroughly.
There is simply no room anywhere on the Asian mainland for such an Ape
oriented culture to exist, and certainly, if they had been active on the
mainland, their neighbors would have recorded them, and their cities would
have been known.
This is a fairly sophisticated culture, remember, with agriculture,
domesticated animals and fairly advanced technology in terms of sea travel
and monument or wall building. They can’t just spring up overnight
or out of nowhere.
So, where are they?
The only explanation that makes sense might be that they’re the people
Let me back this up a bit. Atlantis is a real myth, in the
sense that Plato wrote about it thousands of years ago, and there is all
sort of legendry and folklore, at least since then, alleging its existence.
Lemuria is not a real myth. Lemuria was a sort of 19th century
invention that was created to account for various anomalies in the Indian
Ocean. Related peoples and related species of plants and animals,
particularly lemurs and primates, which were found in widely scattered
island locations. People of that age found it puzzling that
clearly related species should be found so far apart. They didn’t
have a good grasp of evolutionary theory, and they had no idea about moving
tectonic plates. Instead, back then, there was a lot of talk
about land bridges and sunken or risen lands. So, scientists
speculated that there had been a continent or land mass in the Indian Ocean
which had connected all these islands and habitats, allowing the related
species to wind up in different places. They called this hypothetical
Of course, there was never any such place. Better understanding
of geology, of plate tectonics, and of the evolution of species and their
distributions made it both unnecessary and impossible.
However, before any of that happened, the mystics got ahold of it.
Theosophists, Prophets, and Occultists all decided that Atlantis was nice,
but it was sort of old hat. Lemuria, shortened to Mu was a blank
slate that they could inscribe their fantasies on. There was
a nice symmetry to it. Atlantis was a sunken continent in the Atlantic,
attributed as the source of Western civilizations. Lemuria or Mu
was a sunken continent in the Indian Ocean. Mu could also be
a sunken continent in the Pacific, if you weren’t too clear on geography.
The result was some hair raising lunatic stuff.
Well, none of that here, okay. We ain’t going there.
We’re not getting into any mystical twaddle. As far as Lemuria
goes, well, the homeland of Lemurs is Madagascar.
But still and all, those giant apes have to come from somewhere, and
that’s nowhere in the known territories. And still and all,
the Skull Island progenitors had to come from somewhere, and that somewhere
had to have been big enough to support a healthy population of humans and
giant apes, and to have been there long enough for a real fairly sophisticated
civilization to have emerged. And once again, that’s nowhere
in the known territories.
So, we might as well call it Mu, for want of a better name.
Ergo: The Giant Apes have to come from somewhere else, call
that place Mu1. And the Skull Island Progenitors have to come
from somewhere else, call that place Mu2. So, we have
two potential somewhere elses which cross over with each other at some
point, or we have one very remarkable somewhere else, Mu. Wherever
or whatever this somewhere else was, it ain’t around any more.
And, having given it a name, let us proceed to describe its properties.
Mu or Mu2 has to have been either an Island or a coastal land mass.
Why? Because the Muans were sailors, they made it to Skull
Island. This tells us that they weren’t stuck all the way in some
interior. They had to have access to the sea.
Mu or Mu1 had to be large enough to support a breeding population of
giant apes. So it must have been of fairly hefty size.
At least as large as Sri Lanka which supports a viable population of elephants.
Mu2 also sported a fairly sophisticated civilization, which suggests a
decent population, and therefore a healthy bit of territory to support
Mu or Mu1 is probably an Island rather than a peninsula or piece of
continent. Otherwise, there would be no room for the apes to evolve
to their elephant-like size. The fact that they were able to
get so big suggests that there was no competition and no predators.
So, definitely an Island. But Mu1 as an Island can’t be too far off
the main lands. Obviously, apes, and probably birds, monkeys and
some other critters were able to raft over.
So, Mu1 produces the giant apes, and eventually humans of Mu2 come along
and incorporate them into their culture.
Now, its possible that these humans were starting out on another mystery
island or continental land area, developed a civilization, discovered Mu1
and Skull Island. In which case, we can infer a second lost
and isolated Island, now sunk or vanished, which would be Mu2.
Or its possible, perhaps more likely, that humans who were relatively
low tech discovered Mu1. These could have been relatives of the boat
travelers who colonized Indonesia thousands of years ago. They
settled there, found and domesticated the giant apes and formed a civilization
which eventually made it to skull Island. In which case, Mu1
and Mu2 are the same, its all Mu.
Personally, symmetry suggests we go with the one island rather than
two island theory. For one thing, it gets tricky finding a
place to put big islands. For another, basically, I don’t want to
have to sink more islands than we have to. After all, Skull Island
is sinking, the Mu of the apes has to sink, and the Mu of the Skull island
progenitors has to sink.
Thus, I’m going to assume that Mu was simply inhabited by giant apes,
settled by humans who then built the Mu civilization there, and proceeded
to Skull Island.
So, assuming this is the case, where do we go from here?
Well, there’s a bit of a riddle. It’s likely that the original settlers
of Mu were not carrying cattle with them. If we compare them
with other navigating cultures of the time, we can see that the original
settlers of Australia probably carried dogs with them. The polynesian
seafarers weren’t traveling with anything larger than goats and chickens.
The Vikings brought cows and oxen to Greenland and Iceland, but their ships
were huge compared to those who settled Indonesia, Australia and the South
So, we can assume that the Mu culture did not acquire oxen until it
was a relatively sophisticated seafaring culture. They probably
picked it up from trade with mainland cultures and incorporated it into
their economy on Mu, carrying it with them to Skull Island.
Which begs the question: Did they have any domesticated
animals before they started sailing big time? Well, its possible
that they had food animals, small birds, perhaps larger birds, perhaps
even the burglar monkeys, using the biological stock available on the island.
And then there were the Giant Apes. Now, it may be a remarkable
assertion to suggest that the Giant Apes were domesticated, but its not
necessarily unreasonable. Remember that the Apes, going by
the ruins on Skull Island, were a central part of the culture, appearing
repeatedly in effigies. The other thing to remember is that
the Skull Island ruins are megalithic in scale, and they’re widespread.
This isn’t just a lousy pyramid or temple. The entire centre
of the island was girdled with a massive, near continuous wall, some fifty
feet high and solid enough to have endured for thousands of years.
Building that wall is a colossal amount of hard labour, especially if you’re
limited to human labour. With beasts of burden, the task is
a bit more approachable.
In human history, several large animals have been domesticated as beasts
of burden: Dogs, Goats, Oxen, Camels, Llamas, Reindeer, Horses
and Asian Elephants. The Asian elephants are on the scale of
the giant apes, and might well have been far more versatile and adaptable
Certain factors seem to accompany domesticated animals.
Generally, they’re smaller than their wild counterparts, they have more
juvenile features as if domestication selects for a sort of arrested adolescence.
Of course, this isn’t a uniform rule - there are breeds of domesticated
dog far larger and more ferocious than their wolf forbears.
For some reason, domesticated breeds seem more tolerant around humans
and other animals, they seem more docile and patient, less inclined to
panic. For obvious reasons, domesticated animals tend not to compete
with humans for their needs - thus, they usually have diets that humans
cannot eat, and usually do not favour human diets. Thus, both the
domesticated animal and the human co-exist in the same environment, dining
off different parts of it.
Domesticated animals are invariably social species of one sort or another,
but not every social animal is domesticateable. Except possibly
for one north African strain made famous by Hannibal, but now extinct,
the African elephants cannot be domesticated. Wolves are not
domesticated, no matter how they resemble dogs. Meanwhile, the North
American Caribou is all but identical to the reindeer, but refuses to be
domesticated. You can raise wolves among dogs and caribou among reindeer,
but these creatures still have a basic wild and unpredictable nature.
Rather, it seems that certain animals have a twitch in their social
structure, or perhaps some inbuilt placidity, that allows them to enter
into symbiotic or domesticated relationships with humans. It
also seems that this ‘twitch’ is fairly idiosyncratic, a near identical
related species, like a wolf, zebra or caribou may not share it.
So, looking to the primates, we can say safely that just about every
modern ape and monkey is social or potentially social. On the
other hand, not one of the extant ape species - Orangutangs, Chimpanzees,
Bonobos, or Gorillas have ever been domesticated, and likely they can’t
Or can they be? There are fairly good reasons why apes were
never domesticated. For one thing, they’re mostly hothouse
species. They require highly specialized diets, they’re often
fruit eaters, preferring many of the same foods as humans.
Their preferred habitat is the jungles and rain forests. They
reproduce slowly and grow up slowly.
Compare this with say, cows or horses, who can feed wherever there’s
grass and who do not compete directly for foot, who reproduce quickly,
and whose offspring are fully grown and useable in only a couple of years,
and who exist in a wide variety of environments from grasslands to hill
country to brush where their talents are easily put to use.
Even dogs have versatile diets as scraps and scavengers, eating meat and
fish that do not meet human standards, they can exist anywhere, reproduce
in litters and grow rapidly.
So, in terms of opportunities posed, for the most part, most of the
human cultures were domesticating animals elsewhere. There
was little interest in domesticating gorillas or chimps in the environments
in which they were found. And in these environments, it was
generally easier to import beasts of burden.
Besides which, Apes although popular in human terms, probably weren’t
very useful for many human tasks. Can we imagine a knuckle walking
chimpanzee or bonobo carrying heavy loads? A gorilla pulling a plow?
On the other hand, on Mu, there was a real incentive to domesticate
the giant apes. There was no other easily domesticatable animal
around. Moreover, the giant apes, like elephants, were big
enough and powerful enough that they could be employed in a useful variety
of tasks like oxen or elephants. And the environment in which
the Mu people lived was the same habitat as supported the apes.
It’s likely that the apes diets were distinct enough that the Muans could
be comfortable with such creatures. The only shortcoming would
be that the Giant Apes reproduced and grew slowly.
Of course, their abilities while domesticated, made up for a lot of
shortcomings. An elephant sized gorilla could pull a plow,
haul a wagon or sled, it could pull down trees, harvest fruit, catch fish,
drag nets or anything else any other domesticated animal could.
It could help to ferry boats in and out of harbours, and load boats.
It could help to build huge megalithic constructions, lifting and dragging
immense blocks. It’s mass/horsepower ratio, or its food/horsepower
ratio might be poor compared to other smaller and more efficient beasts
of burden. But, it was for much of Muan history, the only game in
Probably the closest equivalent of the Giant Apes were the Asian Elephants.
These creatures were very large, very long lived, somewhat specialized.
So we might assume very similar situations with the Giant Apes.
Like the Asian Elephant drivers, the trade of Ape Handlers was probably
highly specialized. Ape masters were probably a very respected
caste, perhaps hereditary. They probably formed long term relationships
with individual apes, the way Hindu Elephant Mahouts form long term working
relationships with their Elephants.
They would be essential to many aspects of the economy of the Mu people,
and so its likely that both the Apes and their handlers would be considered
a special caste, venerated and adored, and the Apes would sit very high
in the art and iconography of Mu.
The Oxen, when imported, proved much more efficient in many different
ways. Their limitations of intelligence and ability were overcome
by their coarser diet, higher horsepower ratio and faster reproduction.
No specialized skills were needed to handle oxen, and you didn’t necessarily
need a long term, carefully nurtured relationship. But by this time,
we can see the giant apes were thoroughly entrenched in Muan society.
The iconography of the Skull Island ruins continually venerates the Apes,
but has nothing much to say to the lowly ox.
Of course, if we want to be provocative, we might turn things on its
head. Perhaps the apes were the Muan civilization, and it was
humans who were the junior partners. Insane? Perhaps.
But Gorillas and Chimps can handle limited language and approach childlike
levels of reasoning with a cranial capacity of only 600 cubic centimeters,
compared to the humans 2000. Even allowing for a smaller proportional
area, an ape the size of an elephant would have a cranial capacity as great
as or far greater than human. Elephants brains are four times
the size of humans. Of course, human brains have extensive
folding for cognition and thought, while apes and elephants are fairly
smooth. Not only do we have big brains, but we do a lot with them.
But this doesn’t rule out the possibility of giant apes brains approaching
or exceeding human volumes and complexities. So, conceivably,
the Mu civilization, and the Skull Island settlement was created by the
Apes. It puts a slightly different complexion on Kong.
Is it likely? I dunno. Its possible. But it
strikes me as unlikely that the isolated apes of Mu would have the need
to develop technology, would have the geographical and temporal range to
develop culture and society. Human cultures have advanced because
they cover so much ground. When you’ve got humans through Europe,
Asia and Africa, that’s a lot of creatures in a lot of environments having
to cope and having ideas. When a good idea occurs anywhere,
it will spread all the way.
The Kong Apes were confined to a single relatively small island, with
a stable hospitable environment. So its hard to see them as
innovators and civilization builders, no matter how smart they might have
been. In particular, its hard to see them coincidentally building
their own ape civilization at the same time that another civilization building
species, humans, are just coincidentally wandering in.
So no, the Muans were a human civilization. The Giant Apes
might have been intelligent enough to be partners of some sort, but its
not their civilization. They’re just another domesticated species,
unique, remarkable, perhaps even semi-participants. But that’s
But we’re now getting a slightly better window into the Mu Culture.
They were a people inhabiting a tropical island and using domesticated
giant apes for trade, war, transportation and agriculture. With the
aid of such apes, they mastered megalithic construction techniques.
They were likely fishers, using boats to harvest fish around their shores.
Their developing technology and social organization allowed them to build
bigger and more ambitious monuments, and eventually, bigger and more ambitious
So, inevitably, the Muans embarked on their age of exploration.
How did it go? Well, we know they reached the asian mainland,
and acquired oxen. Well, we know they reached Skull Island,
established a colony and transplanted giant apes and oxen.
But that seems a thin record.
The Muans clearly did not reach Australia, or if they did, they found
it too inhospitable to establish a colony. They did not reach
Madagascar, which was a fertile unoccupied land that was not occupied by
humans until thousands of years later. And certainly, if they left
no traces on Madagascar, they never made it to Africa. They
did not reach Mauritius or Reunion, and so those Islands remained uninhabited,
and their unique species of dodos remained unmolested until Europeans arrived.
They didn’t reach the Seychelles or Maldives, which remained uninhabited,
nor Kerguelen or Crozet.
So, at best, their age of exploration took them to the Asian coasts,
perhaps as far east as India and Sri Lanka, perhaps as far west as Indochina
. They likely made it to Java and Sumatra and some of the other
But except for Skull Island, they made almost no impression.
Well, perhaps we’re being a little harsh on them. The Muan
culture may well have had influences in Indonesia or India or Indochina,
and may well have founded colonies or satellite societies which are a part
of our records. They may be an undocumented source culture.
Or the Muans may have met relatively sophisticated cultures or locals
who were able to repel them. Founding colonies can be a tough
and difficult business, especially if the locals object. Certainly
by this time, agriculture and animal domestication were established, the
mainland cultures were using the ox and it was a very efficient animal.
The Muans simply didn’t have the technological or numerical edges to enforce
their dominion. Nor is colonization an automatic option.
Many societies, from the Phoenicians to the Dutch and Portugese, preferred
to trade rather than establish colonies, preferred commerce to empire building.
Of course, these cultures are inevitably trashed by the empire builders.
And the Muans may have found themselves handicapped. Their
Giant Apes were terrific assets. But they probably didn’t travel
well, they were likely extremely vulnerable to mainland diseases (for reasons
discussed elsewhere), they reproduced slowly, so each loss was very difficult
to replace. Their technological and biological toolkit may not have
supported much expansion against other humans.
Its possible that there was some impact. One can imagine remarkable
battles as armoured apes and their mahouts clashed with elephant cavalry.
Perhaps the apes gave rise to lore of giants and monsters, of wild hairy
men of surpassing strength and savagery whose legends, and perhaps wandering
individuals, made it as far as Europe.
Instead of conquering the mainland, or even Indonesia’s Islands, the
Muans went to the ‘low hanging fruit’ and colonized the only major Island
uninhabited by humans that they could find. Pity for them it
was Skull Island. If they’d only kept sailing and made it to
Madagascar or more genial parts of Australia, their history might be very
different. But instead, it was Skull Island.
It’s quite possible that hunter/gatherer tribes, traveling in small
dugouts had made it to Skull Island before the Muans. Indeed, it
may have been that the same diaspora that settled Mu also reached Skull
But the fauna of Skull Island was quite aggressive and more than a match
for poorly equipped aboriginals. The Megafauna of this Island
had spent millions of years savagely polishing their teeth on each other
and were rather more able to cope than the Megafauna of lands such as Australia
But, the Muan civilization was different. They had their
own kick ass Megafauna in the form of their giant apes and their oxen.
They had weapons technology beyond that of the hunter gatherers, and complex
social organizations that allowed them to field entire armies.
They were willing to take on Skull Island on its own terms.
And they did at least half well. Its pretty clear that the
Skull Island megafauna were neither intimidated nor threatened.
The Muans had to build a gigantic, Island spanning wall to hide behind.
Clearly, what they did was pick a relatively temperate highland not heavily
trod by Dinosaurs, established control of the territory, and eventually
built a wall to secure themselves from the areas of heavy dinosaur population,
like the jungles.
The Muans may have attempted to domesticate some of the life they found
there, perhaps with some degree of success. If so, all traces
of such domestication are probably long lost. On the other
hand, its clear that the Muans introduced at least two species to Skull
Island, and its entirely possible that they may have introduced other species
as well, perhaps birds. These species either became quickly extinct,
or went feral.
So, what happened to the Muans? Well, obviously, their
“The exact nature of the extinction that befell these people remains
a mystery. At least a thousand years ago they were wiped out, leaving
little behind but stowaway rats and the stone skeletons of their city on
a doomed island.”
It’s likely that the Muan Island was heir to the same instability that
afflicted Skull Island. But even before they sank, its likely
that their culture could have been in trouble. Contact with
the mainland was not an unreserved blessing. They might have acquired
new draft animals, new technology and trade good. But they also probably
were afflicted with new diseases for which they had no defenses.
The people of Mu and Skull Island probably suffered periodic plagues.
And if one or more of these plagues struck at the wrong time....
Concurrently with famines or droughts or earthquakes, it would be very
hard for their culture to recover. Certainly plagues from the
mainland might well have decimated the giant apes, which would be another
blow to the overall culture.
There may have been other factors. Civil wars, failed wars
against the mainland, population explosions and collapse, environmental
depletion and deterioration. Their civilization was probably
hit by continuing one-two punches that left them unable to adequately cope
with the troubles facing them. As their Island sank beneath
the waves, they found that they lacked the ability to save themselves.
Frankly, the fact that the Muans put so much effort into establishing
a colony on a place like Skull Island suggests that the main culture on
the Island of Mu was already experiencing considerable stress, either from
overpopulation or resource depletion or internal wars. No one
goes to a place like Skull Island to live, if things are all right at home.
As to the final decline and fall of the Mu culture, and their disappearance
beneath the waves, we can only speculate as to what happened and how.
We can only guess at their problems, and the desperate struggle they must
The Skull Island colony was left on its own. Or perhaps
its decline and fall was simultaneous with its parent. There
was enough of Skull Island to allow us to at least guess as to what must
Some mainland derived plague hit and decimated both the human and the
ape population. Or perhaps a famine hit. Simultaneously
with that, when the population was most vulnerable, Earthquakes and Island
subsidence destroyed crucial infrastructure including roads, buildings,
crops or irrigation, while bringing down large sections of the wall.
Reeling, and without sufficient arms or giant apes to defend it, the Skull
Island colonists could only beg for rescue and assistance from a homeland
that may no longer have existed, or which was struggling with its own problems.
The ruling reptiles resumed their throne and the Skull Island society experienced
a catastrophic collapse from which there could be no recovery.
Did they vanish completely?
I don’t think so.
There was still a human population on Skull Island as late as the twentieth
century. Western explorers refused to believe that forlorn
village of savages had anything to do with the magnificent ruins.
But this posed the question of who the current inhabitants were and were
they came from.
“The first sight to greet explorers of
Skull Island was the mighty wall that divided humanity’s meager settlement
from the terrors of the jungle interior. Huge and imposing, this
enormous structure dwarfed the puny village huddling in its protective
shadow. This was not the work of that struggling populace, but the
legacy of some older, far more advanced civilization, long gone.”
Well, let’s get serious here. We have a culture with no obvious
or apparent relatives in any of the nearby islands. This suggests
that the date from a wave of colonization well before the current inhabitants
of the Indonesian and Indochinese regions. Since the periods of these
colonizations are well known, we can estimate reliably at the very least
how old they have to be. They may be much older than that.
“The exact origin of the natives was
unknown. Their physiology did not closely match that of any of the
region’s inhabitants, and their myths hinted at a possible stranding, so
it is conceivable they came from very far away.”
Their folklore suggests that they were blown to the Island by a storm.
But this is hardly an answer. They would have had to have been blown
from some adjacent area. If they were blown a great distance,
then its likely that their technology was far more sophisticated, their
boats much larger, in order to allow them to survive the trip. Either
way, their originating culture is unknown, so wherever their source, it
must have been well before the cultures around the Indian Ocean established
Meanwhile, the current Skull Island villagers have at least one strange
affinity with the ancient Skull Island culture. They worship
or venerate the giant ape, Kong.
“The roots of this tradition were difficult
Considering the remarkable and ferocious Megafauna that dominates the island,
the ape worship seems like a peculiar thing. In Kong’s case,
he must travel far beyond his habitual range in order to receive his tributes.
So let’s be blunt here. The current village of Skull Islanders,
as degenerate and desperate as they may be, are clearly the last relics
of the Muan Civilisation which domesticated the Giant Apes, and colonized
Continued next week . . .
Part II: King Kong: How Did That Monkey Get So Big?