The World of Kong: A Natural History of Skull Island
The World of Kong: A Natural History of Skull Island is an informational book detailing the various ecosystems both seen and unseen in 2005's King Kong written by Dan Falconer. It was released on November 22, 2005.
It was an uncharted island somewhere off the coast of Sumatra, it was a land whispered about by merchants and sailors. It was a place so unbelievable that no one dared believe in its existence. Except one man, the extraordinary showman Carl Denham. Many will, of course, remember his show on Broadway and its tragic ending. But New York is not where the story ended, it is where it began.
After King Kong's death in New York City, the scientific community was sent into a frenzy about him and his place of origin, Skull Island. Never had such an opportunity for exploration and discovery arisen since Europe discovered the New World. Upon Skull Island's unveiling, universities and private organizations scrambled to dispatch exploration teams while battling with one another for exclusivity and justification rights, as each wanted to be the first on the island. Of the 12 expeditions made to Skull Island, only a handful managed to make landfall, and of those, six were woefully unprepared for the horrors that awaited them. After a year of these ceaseless tragic losses, a jointly managed and financed initiative was created by the three biggest interested parties.
This three-month expedition, led by Carl Denham, went by the name Project Legacy, and began in 1935. Its goal was to systematically explore and document Skull Island, but with the amount of discoveries being made every day in tandem with the realization that the island was too large and dangerous to document in three months, they came to understand that even decades of research would barely scratch the surface of Skull Island's secrets. Because of this, Project Legacy was extended to a series of annual expeditions with the goal of creating a permanent base of operations on the island.
However, during the second expedition in 1936, a massive earthquake sank part of the island, taking five team members with it. Geologists that examined the area discovered that the island was a doomed oddity, and likened it to a scab on Earth's crust that was ready to come off. Just like Kong before it, the rest of Skull Island was no more shortly after its discovery. In 1948, barely 15 years after its discovery, Skull Island sank in its entirety, taking its monsters, its people, and its secrets with it after only seven Project Legacy expeditions.
Skull Island introduction
- Main article: Skull Island.
Skull Island had long been sinking into the ocean due to its being located on the Indo-Australian and Eurasian tectonic plates, surrounded by magnetic anomalies and violent sea storms. It was formerly part of a larger landmass called Gondwanaland, but the plates that created the island by rolling over one another caused constant stress and fracturing of the rock, making it highly unstable and creating volcanic activity. Molten rock was pushed to the surface from the plate boundary, while chunks of the land fell into the trench that marked the plate boundary. The forces that had created Skull Island were slowly destroying it. When Skull Island fell away from Gondwanaland, its indigenous species went with it and were saved from mass extinction, but the dwindling land and resources over the years made the ecosystem incredibly and increasingly competitive.
At some point in its history, people theorized to be from Southeast Asia came to the island, likely with the ancestors of the kongs and built great cities all over its surface. However, at least 1,000 years before the 20th century, they disappeared, leaving only their wall and their cities behind, which were slowly retaken by nature.
On the west side of the island, the geographical turmoil of Skull Island created a jagged shoreline of rocks and sunken ruins, while on the east side, the slower sinking of the lowlands formed massive floodplains and a few hidden beaches on some inlets. These eastern lowlands, in the shadow of the mountains, were home to a network of waterways, as well as the largest of Skull Island's inhabitants. Mighty herbivores kept the jungle from overtaking the grasslands by constantly eating its invading scrub. As the island shrank, the grasslands shrank with it until they were 80 percent depleted in the span of a few centuries. This intensified competition for the native grassland species. The high levels of rainfall each year supplied a constant healthy flow of water across and under the island, shaping the landforms as it went. The massive jungles, with enormous twisted trees, hosted entire ecosystems in their branches hundreds of feet above the dark, damp scrub and armchair-sized toxic sporing fungi of the floor. The dense environment favored extreme specialization in its organisms and it was at times hard to tell where one species ended and the next began. Nature was at war with itself in the never-ending battle for survival that the jungle created. It is theorized that the jungle humidity allowed for many Cretaceous species to survive extinction. The canopy's high above winds and poor access to water forced species to cling on with any means necessary. In the southern parts of the island, erosion and earthquakes created a series of deep chasms in the island's surface. The cracks exposed underground springs, and received rotting matter from the surface to create a river of sludge that made itself home to horrors that made the world above seem normal by comparison. High above, in the mountainous ridge that ran the length of Skull Island, surrounded by lesser peaks boasting a plethora of ruins, the harsh wind and rain prevented the jungle from spreading up their rocky faces. Only the toughest plants and the animals hearty enough to eat them, and their predators in turn, could survive. The bleak and lonely mountains served as a hermitage for the lonely king.
"A Map of Skull Island"
A recurring explorer running away from a Ferrucutus
- On page 119, there is a typographical error. When referring to the domed shells of the Skull Island Loggerheads, the phrase "domes shells" is printed.
- The Sumatran Rat-Monkey, a creature from Peter Jackson's horror film Braindead, makes a brief cameo in the section regarding the chasm-dwellers.
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