Herald of Opera asks:

Do you like penguins? (Same question goes for Jim the Editor; I always ask this whenever an opportunity for an unbounded question arises, including careless wording.) (Also, whenever speaking up in favor of Sword & Shield’s National Dex removal, I make sure to mention the absurdly slim chances of Piplup getting in as proof that it hurts me more than it probably hurts them)

Penguins are fµ¢£ing great (and this is our shared opinion, by the way).  They’re birds, but instead of flying they swim!  And on land they’re so waddly and dumb and cute, but in the water they’re so… so… M A J E S T I C.  Piplup remains to this day my favourite Water-type starter, for reasons that I’m not even going to pretend are based entirely in sober design analysis.  And there are gay penguin couples who adopt eggs and chicks, acting as aspirational figures for the LGBT community and filling the hearts of the entire world with warmth and fuzziness.  As long as we’re on penguins, I’m going to direct readers to the Instagram account of the National Aquarium of New Zealand in Napier, home of a colony of New Zealand’s native little blue penguins (scientifically proven to be the smollest and most adorable of all penguins), one of whom each month is designated “good penguin” or “naughty penguin of the month.”  And, of course, I would be doing you all a great disservice if I didn’t tell you that New Zealand is also where several of the oldest species of fossil penguins come from, some of them gigantic fossil penguins as tall as humans, like the new species Crossvallia waiparensis described just a few weeks ago from fossils found in Canterbury.

…so I guess what I’m saying is the answer to your question is “yes.”

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:”

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.

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”