Tony the Tiger asks:

You like old stuff, right? What are your thoughts on fossil pokemon?

In general archaeologists take pains to point out that we do not study fossils (it’s a surprisingly common mistake).  Not all “old stuff” is similarly old (unless you listen to certain ill-advised religious sects); I deal in the hundreds/thousands of years range, not millions/tens of millions.  Fossils are about as much my professional area of expertise as the moons of Jupiter are an airline pilot’s.

…as it happens, though, I am independently a layman dinosaur nerd with a basic knowledge of evolutionary biology, and I was a sufficiently weird kid that, when I started school, I wanted to be not a fireman or an astronaut but a palaeontologist.  So LET’S TALK FOSSILS.

Continue reading “Tony the Tiger asks:”

Anonymous asks:

Of all the fossil pokemon, not including the kabutops and aurorus lines, which do you think would be the most intimidating to encounter? What about the least intimidating? I did away with those two because they’re obvious answers to the respective categories, since kabutops has the whole slashing thing going on and aurorus is a gentle, color changing giant.

You know, I’m not sure I agree with you on either of those!  Like, Kabutops has the slashy thing, sure, but he’s also about four feet tall, which is a big strike against him as far as intimidation goes.  Aerodactyl is larger, can fly, and will eat your face off, while Tyrantrum is just unfairly massive.  As for least intimidating, well, Aurorus is beautiful and gentle, sure, but still big and bulky enough that she could hurt you pretty badly just by failing to notice you.  Lileep, on the other hand, is made of seaweed and literally cannot move.

Inksword asks:

I always thought the rock typing was a side-effect from the fossil reviving process.Since fossilization is the replacement of stuff with rock, and you’re specifically reviving from FOSSILS not DNA (except, I guess, for aerodactly) the typing changed

Mostly works for the games (except for, as you mention, Aerodactyl).  Doesn’t work once you bring the anime into it, because there are episodes where Ash encounters surviving populations of supposedly extinct Pokémon (like the Kabuto in the Orange Islands), and even one where he actually travels through time and sees Tirtouga and Carracosta in their natural prehistoric habitat.  It’s pretty clear from instances like these that the fossil Pokémon aren’t substantially altered from their original biology.

VikingBoyBilly asks:

Why are mamoswine and relicanth not fossils? Also, Relicanth should evolve into a Dunkleosteuss pokemon. Cool idea, no?

Well, the whole point of Relicanth is being based on something that’s actually not extinct but just looks like it should be.  Making Relicanth a fossil would sort of defeat the purpose, in a way.  I mean, you could have Relicanth available as both a fossil and a wild Pokémon, which I think would be a cool way of emphasising its unusual status, but from Game Freak’s perspective, why would you do that?  And would most players actually like that, or would they feel cheated by getting a ‘fossil’ Pokémon that they could just catch normally?  Dunkleosteus… eh.  Sure?  It is again kind of defeating the purpose of Relicanth, but it’s not like evolutionary history in the Pokémon world makes any damn sense anyway.

As for Mamoswine… well, one of the ideas I have about fossil Pokémon is that they’re all Rock-types because Rock-type skeletons are unusually robust, and so representation in the fossil record is overwhelmingly skewed towards Rock Pokémon.  Fossils of prehistoric Pokémon of other types – including Mamoswine – are rare enough that we just never come across them in the games.

Amaura and Aurorus




I think everyone has a dinosaur phase, right?  Mine was… longer and more educationally rigorous than most, put it that way (my parents claim to this day that my first words as a baby were not the traditional ‘mama’ and ‘papa’ but the often tongue-twisting names of dinosaur species).  There actually aren’t all that many Pokémon who seem to be based primarily on dinosaurs, funnily enough, although several of the big superstar ones are represented: we have ceratopids (Shieldon and Bastiodon), pachycephalosaurs (Cranidos and Rampardos), sauropods (Bayleef and Meganium, Tropius), and of course the famous birdlike theropod Archaeopteryx (Archen and Archeops).  There are also a bunch of Pokémon that are probably influenced by dinosaurs, like Tyranitar, who seems to be a tyrannosaur via Godzilla, Charmeleon, who has shades of a small theropod, Torterra, who owes as much to ankylosaurs as to tortoises, and Bulbasaur, who… well, to be honest I don’t think even Game Freak really know exactly what Bulbasaur is but the –saur suffix definitely strikes a particular note.  X and Y give us two more fossils: the brutal tyrannosaurs Tyrunt and Tyrantrum, and these two loveable goofs.  I probably wouldn’t have chosen another sauropod, myself – I kind of want to see a hadrosaur – but I’m not about to complain about more dinosaurs, so here we go.

Continue reading “Amaura and Aurorus”

On Fossil Pokémon

Let’s talk about fossil Pokémon.

Official art of (left to right) Kabuto, Kabutops, Omastar, and Omanyte, by Ken Sugimori; quoth the raven "copyright Nintendo!"
From left to right: Kabuto, Kabutops, Omastar and Omanyte

Ever since the glory days of Red and Blue, the scientists of the Pokémon world have been trying to resurrect ancient, extinct species of Pokémon from their fossilised remains – and, in many cases, they’ve succeeded.  Every generation except for the second has brought a new set of fossil Pokémon with it; Omastar, Kabutops and Aerodactyl from Red and Blue, Cradily and Armaldo from Ruby and Sapphire, Rampardos and Bastiodon from Diamond and Pearl, and now Archeops and Carracosta from Black and White.  One could also include, as an honourable mention, Ruby and Sapphire’s Relicanth, who, like his inspiration the coelacanth, is an extremely archaic species believed for many years to be extinct until a few were unexpectedly found very much alive in the deep ocean.  I talked about Archeops and Carracosta at some length when I was reviewing the Unova Pokédex last year, so there’s little point in discussing them further, and I’m not especially anxious to do detailed reviews on all of the others either when there are so many other projects on my list, but I do think it would be worthwhile to talk about them as a group, since the whole concept of a ‘fossil Pokémon’ is quite interesting, particularly with reference to the context in which Game Freak started using these ideas in the first place.

Continue reading “On Fossil Pokémon”