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Gorilla warfare: Is Planet of the Apes even remotely possible?

Here's what science has to say about just how "bananas" -- or plausible -- the film series is

Could apes really rise up against us?

20th Century Fox

Could apes really rise up against us?

An attack by apes of wrath — intelligent chimps, orangutans and gorillas that wage a global war — seems far-fetched. Just how bananas is the science depicted in the Planet of the Apes?


Could great apes speak?
Not without major changes to their anatomy. But that doesn’t mean they can’t use language, at least in a basic way. Chimpanzees and gorillas have been taught sign language. They’ve even combined words, and taught other apes to sign.

Could they shoot a gun?
Hard to say. Chimps and orangutans have longer fingers and shorter thumbs than ours — for swinging through trees. But chimps have been trained to do tricky tasks, from sautéing food to smoking cigarettes, so it’s not outside the realm of possibility.

Could a drug give them human intelligence?
In principle, maybe. Although viruses are used to genetically modify specific cells in adult organisms (mostly mice), the most common and dramatic genetic modification takes place before cells are implanted in the womb. Plus, intelligence is controlled by 50+ genes and many environmental factors: Not so easy to engineer.

Could they walk on two feet like humans?
Yes, but they’re not built for it. Great apes – gorillas, chimps and orangutans alike – all walk on two feet from time to time. But it exhausts them. They don’t naturally hold their heads upright or put all their weight on one leg for a while like we do. 

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