Thursday, 22 April 2010

Pokémon Palaeontology I

There are a few parallels between pokémon and palaeontology, both have the collecting aspect and both give the desire to discover new species. On top of this there are fossil type pokémon, which I will be looking at here, and also many are based on extinct organisms. I do feel I should point out that the evolution seen in pokémon is nothing of the sort, it is metamorphosis. If the pokémon gave birth to the next "evolution" then it would be an extreme case of saltation (a large leap) similar to the hopeful monster approach of Goldschmidt, which is known not to occur. As it occurs within a single generation and is repeatable by other members of the species, it is definitely metamorphosis.

I always liked pokémon, I played the Gameboy game (I bought red at first) and had a love of fire type pokémon, so naturally I picked charmander. I also collected the trading cards, which I still own. I played gold when it came out, but after that slowed down. I last played diamond, though I lost it for a while and now that I have found it again I have nothing to play it on. I can't buy the new game for the same reason, so I thought that instead I would indulge myself by looking at the various palaeontology influenced pokémon and come up with my own ideal team (in the form of a gym leader with a theme and not simply the sort you would challenge the elite four with).

Kabuto and Kabutops are  favourites of mine. I naturally chose the dome fossil while playing red in order to get these. Kabutops was often a member of my team on the Gameboy game and I often select it when playing Pokémon Stadium too. They are a combination of both rock and water type, making them quite versatile in battle. In contrast with Omanyte and Omastar, they have a more attacking style which they sacrifice some defence for. Kabuto is based on the living horseshoe crab and of course the extinct trilobites. Kabutops is based on the eurypterids, though its cephalon and pleural segments connect it to trilobites and genus Cheirurus  seems to be the preferred comparison.

Next up are Omanyte and Omastar, which are resurrected from the helix fossil within the game. Both are also rock and water type and quite clearly are based on ammonites. 

Also from the original games comes another which I used to use often, the flying and rock type Aerodactyl. Aerodactyl is another obvious one, both the appearance and name suggest that it was based on some sort of pterosaur, often labelled pterodactyls. More specifically it could be a Ramphorynchoid as it had teeth and a tail.

A big jump through the pokédex now to Anorith and Armaldo. These are a mixture of rock and bug type (though oddly not water type considering their basis) and Anorith is resurrected from the claw fossil. Anorith for me is the interesting one as it was based on the Cambrian beasty Anomalocaris for which the tale of discovery is fascinating.  Originally Anomalocaris  was believed to be three different species; the mouth part was thought to be an unusual jellyfish called Peytoria; the front appendages were thought to be the back end of a shrimp; and the body was thought to be a sponge.
Armaldo is rather different as it is a bit of a mish-mash of different prehistoric organisms. It is supposed to be based on Anomalocaris,  but seems to have features thrown in which fit the thyreophorans (the dinosaur group containing stegosaurs and ankylosaurs). Below is a picture of the awesome Anomalocaris  for comparison:

The root fossil brings back Lileep, which evolves into Cradily. Both are rock and grass type, though it is again odd that they are not water type, considering the habitat of what they are based on. Both of course are based on Crinoids, also known as sea lilies. It is a tad annoying that they are plant type, as their superficial resemblance to flowers cause many to think of them as plants, when they are actually animals, more specifically echinoderms. Personally I think Lileep is quite cute, whereas Cradily looks demented.

Shieldon and Bastiodon are next, coming from the armour fossil. Both of these are based on ceratopsian dinosaurs, with Shieldon resembling a Protoceratops to an extent, while Bastiodon is apparently based on Zuniceratops.

These two are both rock and steel type, making their head shields tougher than any ceratopsian ever managed.

Last for now are Cranidos and Rampardos, resurrected from the skull fossil and they are the only fossil pokémon to be only rock type. Both are obviously based on pachycephalosaurs, though apparently Rampardos is more specifically based on pachycephalosaurs such as Dracorex or Stygimoloch. I find the name Stygimoloch amusing as it means "horned devil". 

For now I will leave it there, having covered the specifically fossil type pokémon. There will be more to come though, as many pokémon are based on prehistoric critters and I also intend to list a gym leader type team. I will go easy on the images next time, they have messed with the format too much and the amount of blank space is annoying.

No comments: