Zilla’s Anatomy, the TriStar ‘Godzilla’

I recently posted an updated version of the ‘Science of Godzilla’ article, and what a great success it was. But I don’t care, because I totally forgot something else I should have mentioned: Tracy L. Ford recently had the opportunity to produce a number of anatomical drawings of Zilla (aka GINO * / Deanzilla / Fraudzilla ), the bipedal reptile monster that invades New York in the 1998 movie TriStar Godzilla. Like all Godzilla fans, I don’t consider Zilla a “Godzilla” at all; he is rather a charlatan, an impostor. And the movie itself is awful.

* Godzilla in name only

Either way, Tracy was kind enough to let me use her designs here. Here they are, with a few comments.

We begin with a complete reconstruction of the skeleton (and an anatomical life drawing) of the creature. In the skeleton, note that Tracy provided Zilla with a pelvis where the pubis and ischium are relatively short: indeed, Zilla’s body and pelvic region are not particularly deep, so she cannot have had a pubic area. and long-stemmed ischia. like those found in theropod dinosaurs. Tracy also gave Zilla a fenestrated lizard-like scapulocoracoid. We don’t know if Zilla has gastralia or not: if it is a mutated lizard (see below), the presence of inscription ribs embedded in the abdominal musculature would be predicted.

Zilla’s slender and slender hind limb bones look somewhat surprising considering Zilla’s incredible size (less than 20,000 tons): you could predict there would be large trochanters for enlarged musculature, enlarged joint ends. or much thicker bony stems. . But no. Zilla’s courtesy is, indeed, a bit of a paradox (Christiansen 2000).

Note in the drawing of life that Zilla has pronated forelimbs where the radius is medially positioned and the palms face the ground. This setup is most likely present because the designers looked at old illustrations of theropods.


Zilla’s back armor is undeniably similar to that of the real Godzilla. Note in Tracy’s illustrations that there are several parallel rows of osteoderms, extending from the pectoral region to the tip of the tail. Flat scales arranged transversely and lateral rows of smaller scales cover the dorsal surface of the neck.

Zilla’s identity is somewhat obscure. It is implied in the film that it is a mutated giant lizard (possibly a marine iguana … which would explain why Zilla is originally from the South Pacific * and eats fish **), and a giant mutated lizard that only superficially resembles theropod dinosaurs. Zilla’s feet don’t make much sense as the hallux (number I) is absent, while the small divergent number is the number V (the one on the outer edge of the foot). I think the designers looked at theropod feet, but then “inverted” the anatomy of the foot so that Zilla didn’t precisely look like a theropod. You can see from the drawings of Tracy’s hand that Zilla has a diverging thumb, in which case it is superficially similar to theropods and different from lizards.

* Since marine iguanas only live on the Galapagos Islands.
** Since marine iguanas are strict herbivores.


Finally, we come to the cranial anatomy. Zilla’s massive lower jaw and protruding chin area are peculiar and anatomically new, and perhaps incongruous with her fishy diet: you might consider her head to be “over-designed,” or perhaps the result of an imbalance. hormonal. Indeed, the creature turns out to be a parthenogenetic female, pregnant with a clutch of several hundred eggs, so something bizarre is happening in hormonal terms (Zilla’s parthenogenetic ability is at least consistent with a squamate identity: for example, Maslin 1971, Lenk et al. 2005, Watt et al. 2006). The laterally positioned nostril and eye don’t seem at all consistent with Zilla’s amphibious / semi-aquatic lifestyle, but neither do any of her other features. He looks as aquatic as a psittacosaurus (ha ha – – a joke).



Above, Tracy’s take on the scalp. This massive coronoid process corresponds to a very powerful bite. The fact that dental crowns appear to be worn on bony pedicels is peculiar and gives the impression that the dentition is acrodont (where alveoli or an anchoring groove are absent and the teeth are fused to the jaw bones), but …


… as you can see here, the teeth have very long roots and therefore the dentition must in fact be thecodont (where the teeth implant themselves in deep sockets). Tracy assumes that the canals of dental crowns are connected by ducts to specialized labial glands.

To my knowledge, none of this has been published, although I believe it was the subject of a presentation at a conference. Zilla’s skeletal anatomy is obviously fairly well known (arguably more than that of the real Godzilla), although no information is yet available on her internal soft tissue anatomy. I hope you enjoyed this additional excursion into the anatomy of monsters, and many thanks to Tracy Ford for allowing the use of her illustrations.

For other articles from the Tet zoo on speculative zoology, see …

Refs – –

Christiansen, P. 2000. Godzilla from a zoological point of view. Mathematical geology 32, 231-245.

Lenk, P., Eidenmueller, B., Staudter, H., Wicker, R. & Wink, M. 2005. A parthenogenetic Varanus. Amphibious-Reptilia 26, 507-514.

Maslin, TP 1971. Parthenogenesis in reptiles. American zoologist 11, 361-380.

Watts, PC, Buley, KR, Sanderson, S., Boardman, W., Ciofi, C. & Gibson, R. 2006. Parthenogenesis in Komodo dragons. Nature 444, 1021-1022.

Comments are closed.