Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Godzilla: King of the tracemakers

Still taken from original 1954 Godzilla (Gojira), showing a bipedal trackway going from a terrestrial to marine environment. But also check out the prominent groove in the middle of the trackway, caused by a tail dragging behind it, and four forward-pointing toes on each foot.

Emory paleontologist Anthony Martin, who studies tracks, burrows and other traces of life, has written an ichnology review of the new movie “Godzilla” for his blog, “Life Traces of the Georgia Coast.” Below is an excerpt.

"Upon learning that Godzilla would be making its way back onto movie screens this summer, my first thought was not about whether it would it would serve as a powerful allegory exploring the consequences of nuclear power. Nor did I wonder if it would be a metaphor of nature cleansing the world’s ecological ills through the deliberate destruction of humanity. Surprisingly, I didn’t even ponder whether the director of this version (Gareth Edwards) would have our hero incinerate Matthew Broderick with a radioactively fueled exhalation as cinematic penance for the 1998 version of Godzilla.

"Instead, my first thought was, 'Wow, I’ll bet Godzilla will leave some awesome tracks!' My second thought was, 'Wow, I’ll bet Godzilla will leave some awesome bite and claw marks!' My third thought was, 'Wow, I’ll bet Godzilla will leave some awesome feces!' All of these musings could be summarized as, 'Wow, I’ll bet Godzilla will leave awesome traces, no matter what!'

"So as an ichnologist who is deeply concerned that movie monsters make plenty of tracks and other traces whilst rampaging, I am happy to report that yes, this Godzilla and its kaiju compatriots did indeed make some grand traces. Could they have made traces worthy of ichnological appraisal, ones that could be readily compared to trace fossils made by Godzilla’s ancestors? Yes, but these traces could have been better, and let me explain why."

Read the entire review on Martin’s blog.

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