You’re in a maze. You can’t turn back. You have only to go forward. In your hand is a sharp six-inch knife. Just ahead is a spot where the maze forks in two directions. If you go one way you must face a tiger (the average size of all tigers) and if you go the other way you must face a gorilla (the average size of all gorillas). You must kill the animal in order to pass. Which one do you choose?
I came up with this question a few years back (3 or 4 I believe) and it has not gone away. Part of the reason for its longevity is the fact that I originally chose the gorilla and most people choose the tiger. This conflict fuels debate and further interest. I have always believed that the gorilla is the more reasonable choice. Yet most think I am foolish. Well, I now want to put it all to rest by presenting an air-tight argument in favor of the gorilla. To put it another way, I’m going to show the tiger people that they are the foolish ones.
First, let’s look at size. Here is an illustration of the size comparison between a 6 foot man and a mountain gorilla (which is the largest of the gorillas).
The male mountain gorilla can grow as heavy as 500 pounds and to over 6 feet tall when standing upright. When you factor the various species of gorilla, you get an average of about 400 pounds and a size of about 5 feet standing upright. That’s still nothing to shake a stick at. But how does the tiger compare?
On the left is the size comparison between a man and a lion, so ignore that. The middle image is of a Bengal tiger and the image on the right is of the largest tiger, the Amur. From what I’ve gathered, to average the tiger sizes you would have a length of about 8.5 feet and a weight of about 450 pounds. (I used two internet sources and neither were wikipedia). You could say that they are of comparable size to the gorilla, if not larger.
The main point I am trying to make with the reality of size is that gorillas are not significantly larger than tigers. If anything, tigers are larger. I believe that many people envision gorillas to be larger than they actually are and tigers to be smaller.
Now that I’ve shown you that tigers are a little bigger than gorillas, let’s move to my next point, which is what these animals are designed for.
Tigers are predators. Gorillas eat plants.
Tigers have claws that can extend to 4 inches. They have canines that often exceed three inches. Tigers have powerful jaw muscles to “clamp on prey with crushing force.” They are built to take down animals and kill them. Here is a quote I found.
Corbett’s idiosynchratic Temple tiger, after fighting over a kill with a very large black bear, then picked up the cow, weighing six or seven hundred pounds, and dragged it for some two miles up a densely wooded hill, negotiating dense undergrowths, fallen trees and great masses of rock
Now let’s look at the vegetarian gorilla.
Gorillas are herbivores that eat seeds and fruits and sometimes ants and termites. They are certainly strong at about six times stronger than an adult male. But that strength is not used to hunt prey. They have fairly large canines, but most of their teeth are flat for chomping on plants. They are not killing machines.
Conclusion: Tigers are killing machines that are at least of comparable size to gorillas. Tigers are built to kill large prey. Gorillas are built to pick plants. Tigers have impressive strength, at the very least on par with gorillas. Gorillas are about six times stronger than an adult man.
People choose tiger due to misconceptions in size and ferocity. They saw The Neverending Story when they were kids and they think that the tiger will simply jump at them and all that needs to be done is stab them once in the neck. You know it’s true!
King Kong and Mighty Joe Young don’t help either.
Gorilla is the correct answer.