Anonymous asks:

Thoughts on the Pokemon Tree of Life? (Search on Reddit.) I just spent a good half hour marveling at how much work must have gone into it!

I’ve seen an earlier version, I think in generation V or VI. And, well, I can certainly appreciate the effort, and it is a beautiful thing in its own way. Sort of artistic, really. The trouble I have is that it almost certainly doesn’t work like that. Two kinds of animal that can breed to produce viable offspring (e.g. horse and donkey) almost have to be more closely related to one another than two that can’t (e.g. horse and goat). But here we get Pokémon that can breed with each other despite being from distant parts of the tree, like Tangrowth and Venusaur, and Pokémon that can’t breed with each other despite being adjacent on the tree, like Gardevoir and Medicham. Pokémon clearly don’t follow the real world’s rules of genetics, heredity and speciation; they can breed across species lines and they can inherit at least some acquired characteristics (Lamarckian evolutionists represent!). What that means is that, if it’s even possible to come up with a schema that represents the evolutionary relationships of all Pokémon in a consistent and meaningful way, it probably looks nothing like a real-world “tree of life” or cladogram. It’s… probably more of a Venn diagram situation. Or, like, a spirograph or something.

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