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:”

Ty asks:

I’m familiar with your thoughts on how the games try and paint Mew as the ancestor of Pokemon and how backwards their logic is claiming it’s due to Mew having the DNA of all Pokemon. That, as you’ve pointed out multiple times, is not how ancestry works.

I wanted to share with you an idea I’ve had about how I’d handle the Mew situation and what your thoughts about it are. For me, since Mew is the only Pokemon barring Ditto that can learn transform, I really like the idea that Mew could be the ancestor of all Pokemon, or at least the Mew species. In how I’d handle it, Mew would be #1 in the Pokedex and would be the original Pokemon that could change shape at will. As the curious creatures as they are, mews explored endlessly, tackling any environmental challenges by changing shape into the various Pokemon species we’re familiar with to suit that environment. Over time, those mew who grew older and decide to settle in their areas in whatever shape they were in, over thousands of years, lost the ability to transform and remained in that shape as whatever new species they were. Because so few environments are comfortable for Mew’s natural form, and/or so few mew continued to travel endlessly, modern day mews are fairly rare, hence their legendary status. This would really help explain a lot of artificial Pokemon since the mew that originally became that species took on an artificial form for one reason or another somewhere down the line, rather than Pokemon like Klinklang, Electrode, and Klefki existing and being able to breed in some degree for no particular reason.

Continue reading “Ty asks:”

Jeffthelinguist asks:

So (almost) all Pokémon evolved from Mew. What about the rest of life, did Arceus created humans and/or other animals separately? If humans came from Mew as well (I mean humans supposedly married Pokémon and I think there were other hints that early humans didn’t see themselves as that different from Pokémon), then what type are humans? If they have their own type… what would their weaknesses and resistances be?

This is an area where I have a few old sticking points that make me possibly the wrong person to ask. I’m on the record as not believing the standard line about Mew being the ancestor of all Pokémon and thinking that the Pokémon world’s scientists must simply be wrong about that. They believe it because Mew’s DNA has been shown to contain the genetic code of all known Pokémon – which is not something that any real-world geneticist or evolutionary biologist would expect a common ancestor to have. In fact it strikes me as basically impossible for a common ancestor to contain the genetic code of all its descendants, barring some kind of bizarre time loop in which Mew is somehow also descended from every known Pokémon. On the other hand, it’s entirely possible that genetics and evolution don’t work the same way in the Pokémon world, and that the idea of Mew being the original ancestor must be correct given the unknown biological laws of that world. Or it’s literally magic, in which case, who knows? Continue reading “Jeffthelinguist asks:”

VikingBoyBilly asks:

If you watch Treesicle’s What Are Pokemon – The Story You Never Knew the archaeologist and pokémon nerd inside of you will die a little. (spoilers: did you know mammals evovled from trilobites? Did you know the earth was once populated by typeless Mews who eventually became all the pokémon we have now? Just a reminder, Mew is the ‘New Species’ pokémon)

…it’s 14 minutes long, do I have to watch it?

Ugh, whatever…

Continue reading “VikingBoyBilly asks:”

The Pokémon Power Bracket – Final

http://www.pokemon.com/powerbracket

Hmph. Bloody Rayquaza. It’s almost as if the global Pokémon community isn’t interested in the opinions of a random blogger! I’ve half a mind just to sit in a corner and sulk… on the other hand… I suppose it’s only one more entry. I’ve started, so I’ll finish. Rayquaza vs. Mew: here we go!

Not so fast.

Wait, what?

…Jim, is that you?

I can’t let you do another entry on these two pokemon, especially since the pokemon community have shown themselves to be completely ignorant by allowing this pairing to get through to the final!

But my readers will expect it! Anyway, this is my blog and I’ll do another entry on whatever two damn Pokémon I please! Now get back to proof-reading!  “Best friend,” my ass…

Look chris, you have done a great job, really, talking about all of the legendary pokemon but still look what happens… fighting it out for the ‘best legendary pokemon’ honour. mew and rayquaza!

Well… yes. But that isn’t my fault! I did everything I could to drag Rayquaza through the mud; you saw that!

Obviously, your efforts were not good enough. So i have decided it is my turn and I’ll put this entry up before you even have a chance to change it! MUHAHAHAHAHAHA

You can’t- wait, what are you doing? No, stop thatxpklxasugheiuiyhfrdewseqxrcdtfgvyhjni 

eoshn;ergbselbyhledetbhaedol

franeg;“srjhndjhbo ,ostbh’oCURSEYOU,YOUSONOFASTRUMPETtjp9o;rjke96rk’inkgashnh’w

*huff**puff* Look, this is getting us nowhere. Why don’t we do the blasted entry together?

You’ve had your chances…

*thwack*

*thump*

Good, now that he has been dealt with, I will get to the point of this entry- why mew and rayquaza should not be anywhere near the top two legendaries….

So, you of the pokemon world have decided that of all contestants, Mew and Rayquaza are the two ‘best legendary pokemon’. Well, obviously not you, the educated and respected readers of such high quality blogging as this one here. You all know that there is no way that these two should have gotten anywhere near that top spot, beating out amazing concept pokemon like Darkrai and Shaymin, heavy-weights like Mewtwo and Arceus (how did they do that again?) and my personal favourite, Deoxys. 

In this entry, we’ll take a look at each pokemon’s road to the finals and evaluate which of these two completely overrated pokemon deserves to not lose to the other.

First up, let’s take a look at Mew and its road to the final. Mew is described as having the DNA of every single pokemon in its own body. Originally, this was perhaps conceived of as the origin of all the existing pokemon- everyone was descended from Mew. However, as the pokemon franchise has been (rather clumsily) expanded over the years, the writers seem to have replaced this possible origin theory completely. In the games, since the ’Mew glitch’ was fixed, Mew has only been available through nintendo giveaways and so, for those of us who nintendo does not visit regularly, there was no way of obtaining it. In battle, Mew is on a par with the ‘baby’ legendaries such as Manaphy, Celebi and Victini, sporting a decent 100 base stat for every in-game attribute. This is both a hindrance and a blessing. Mew is good enough that it can do pretty much anything you might want it to; however, there will always be something better at doing the job for which you use mew. Mew’s appearance is vaguely humanoid but retains enough alien-like properties to remain an admittedly quite cute pokemon. This along with the facts that Mew was the first unattainable but attainable (if that makes sense) legendary pokemon and played a prominent role in the first, and most popular, pokemon movie are the only distinctions from the other ‘baby’ legendary pokemon. Surely something better could have taken its place?!

In its road to the final, Mew took on four other pokemon: Heatran, Deoxys, Groudon and Celebi. Heatran lost because, come on, everyone has a heatran and it’s a 4th generation pokemon. Those ‘genwunners’ don’t even know what it is! Deoxys, i’m sad to say, probably fell to a similar fate- kicked out by fair-weather fans who sadly out-number those of us who actually know what is going on (or am i just a little biased?). Groudon. How did groudon even get that far?! It is a terrible pokemon as far as legendaries go! And the showdown with Chris’ beloved Celebi can be seen purely as a ‘design-off’ since both pokemon have the exact same stats and I would suggest that the voters’ familiarity with Mew pushed him past the line… I guess, given his opponents, that Mew has arrived in the final shouldn’t be too surprising. He didn’t have much to beat in the end…which is the opposite of his opponent….

Rayquaza…. when Chris told me he had made it intro the semi-finals I was shocked. Why? Well for a start, look at the damn thing! it looks like a metal flying snake in drag! And that pink lipstick neither brings out its beady little eyes nor does it go well with its emerald green metallic shell. It is an abomination to look at. It is redeemed, I guess, a little by its stat-line. Rayquaza is on a par with the other major legendaries such as mewtwo, palkia, dialga, lugia, ho-oh, etc. But that only makes him equal to these pokemon in terms of his best feature, there is no way he should be beating any of them! He is not special- everyone who has a 3rd gen game can get him. His type (dragon/flying) is not unique but is the most popular of fully evolved dragon types- and it is not even a particularly good typing! Oh, there is the minor plus that he has an in-game ability which negates weather effects which are inevitable if you are battling using legendaries. But really, how the hell did this thing get through?! This isn’t even mentioning his absurd role in the ‘plot’ of emerald which Chris has explained in earlier entries better than I ever could… 

Now, Rayquaza’s road to the final looks similar to Mew’s in terms of his opposition: Azelf, Palkia and Lugia all have their upsides but overall, none of them are magnificent. However, in the semi-final Rayquaza took on Mewtwo. How the hell did he get past mewtwo?!  Mewtwo matches rayquaza in stats and availability, has a sleek humanoid design which leaves Rayquaza’s for dead and does not create an absurd plot with his in-game antics. Add this to Mewtwo’s gen one status, his role in the first movie and his ALL-AROUND-BASSASSNESS (I MEAN HE WAS CREATED BY HUMANS TO BE AWESOME, HOW DOES A LADY-MAN SNAKE THING BEAT THAT?!) 

Ahem. 

Sorry, got carried away there. There was no reason Rayquaza should have beaten Mewtwo…

O readers, you have failed the pokemon world, you have failed chris and, worst of all, you have failed me. But you can seek redemption right now. Make sure that mew wins this final. Mew may not be the most powerful of legendaries, nor the coolest nor the cutest but it is a far better pokemon than that dressed up drag queen of a dragon (Haha- Drag-on, I see what they did there). Chris will be back with you next time. Sorry for the intrusion.

The Pokémon Power Bracket – Semi Final

http://www.pokemon.com/powerbracket

So, what I didn’t anticipate when I started doing this was that I would wind up talking about a lot of the same Pokémon over and over again.  I am getting to the point where I have, quite honestly, said most of what I care to say about Celebi, Mew, Rayquaza and Mewtwo.  If you’ve been reading this so far, you all know that I’m edgy about time travel but much less bothered by Celebi than I am by Dialga, you all know that I think Mew’s backstory is blatantly contradicted all over the place, you all know that I think Mewtwo’s angst is all about stuff that shouldn’t matter in-universe anyway, and you all know that I think Rayquaza deserves to die in a fire for replacing the climax of Emerald version with a massive deus ex machina.  You can almost certainly guess for yourselves by now which way I’m going to vote in the two semi-final matchups.

This is why, instead of discussing what these Pokémon are like and which ones I prefer and what my reasons are, I’m going to do what I do best and MAKE STUFF UP!

Celebi vs. Mew

 

So, here is what we all know about Celebi.  She is a time-traveller, supposedly from the future, who brings life and light to forests (she is particularly associated with the Ilex Forest in southern Johto), and appears only in times of peace.  Stories say that she occasionally leaves mysterious eggs from another time in the deepest parts of the woods, and that “so long as Celebi appears, a bright and shining future awaits us.”  My take on Celebi – which may or may not have any relation to what Game Freak actually had in mind – is that she is the ultimate self-fulfilling prophecy: a paradox being with the power to engineer the circumstances of her own birth at the end of time.  Celebi brings back Pokémon eggs from the future in order to seed the world with the genes and species that will one day give rise to her own ancestors, while protecting and nurturing the forest ecosystems that will allow them to thrive.  One such egg is her own, brought from the future and hidden deep within the Ilex Forest, which will one day be the place of her birth, and sustained through its millennia-long gestation by the vibrant energy of the entire living forest.  Celebi dances through history in intricately choreographed steps, using her formidable psychic abilities to influence events, pushing war and industry away from her precious homeland while gently nudging the people of Johto towards veneration of nature.  Occasionally she comes into contact with humans directly; occasionally she even decides she admires them and submits to capture, staying with them for years or even decades, learning to see the world through their eyes, until they either part ways with her or die, and she loops back on herself to continue her work.  Far in the future, perhaps helped along by human genetic manipulation, a species of Pokémon will evolve that possesses an unusually intuitive sense of time, able to pick out the paths of causality and predict future events with a precision that would leave the dim-witted Psychic Pokémon of our era wide-eyed with amazement.  Eventually they will develop the ability to make tiny hops through time, a few seconds forward to avoid an attack, or backward to undo a mistake.  Under their descendant’s guidance, their powers will grow more phenomenal with every generation, ultimately giving rise to the impossible: the final prodigy who will take her own egg and travel back in time to ensure the sequence of events that led to the creation of her own species.  That is the “bright and shining future” Celebi promises: the only possible version of history that culminates with the birth of the immortal guardian of the forest, who will always lead humanity into harmony with nature.

 

If Celebi is the end, Mew, of course, is the beginning.  Most famous for being Mewtwo’s ‘mother,’ Mew is a mysterious Psychic Pokémon from South America, who was for a long time believed to be extinct, or simply nonexistent.  It turned out, of course, that Mew not only did exist but possessed something akin to a genetic library of all other Pokémon species, an asset which gives her access to all of their powers.  The scientists of the Pokémon world began to theorise that Mew was the common ancestor of all Pokémon, in flagrant defiance of the way evolution actually works (see this entry).  We, of course, also know that Arceus was the first Pokémon and not Mew, and that his first creations were Dialga, Palkia and Giratina, followed by Uxie, Mesprit and Azelf.  Moreover, we know that many Pokémon are unequivocally not descended from Mew, or from any other Pokémon: Grimer comes to mind.  Given these facts, here’s my take on Mew.  I believe I’ve mentioned before that I think of Mew as the first living thing created after Uxie, Mesprit and Azelf; her claim to fame, therefore, is that she is the first living thing with a complete soul: knowledge, emotion, and will.  As for Mew’s ‘genetic library,’ my immediate thought is that she must have been ‘programmed’ in advance with the DNA of every species of Pokémon ordained by Arceus.  I’m pretty sure that’s not what anyone ever had in mind, though, either for Mew or for Arceus; I am quite convinced that evolution (in the real-world sense) is supposed to be a thing in the Pokémon world.  I want to define, then, a very different role for Mew: she really is a genetic library.  Her special power – and, indeed, her duty – is to copy and absorb the genetic information of all Pokémon she encounters, building up a ‘library’ of gene sequences that, between them, record the form, traits and powers of every species that has ever existed (of course she was found in the jungles of South America – she would linger in places of the greatest biodiversity).  She can use this borrowed DNA as a blueprint to Transform into any Pokémon she has observed, or learn techniques from every element.  Further, she was gifted by Arceus with incredible defensive powers, including invisibility and her signature telekinetic shield bubble, ensuring that her precious genetic library will be preserved for all eternity.  As long as Mew exists in the world, extinction will never be forever; she can Transform into every Pokémon that is or was, using all their abilities, and from her genes any of those Pokémon could be resurrected.  She is the holy grail of evolutionary biology, and the scribe who documents for Arceus the history of the world he set in motion.

Rayquaza vs. Mewtwo

 

Oh, yes… Rayquaza… my old enemy.  What do we know about him?  Well, he lives high above the clouds in the ozone layer, where he flies forever, feeding on water vapour and other rarefied substances.  Because Rayquaza lives so high above the earth, his existence was totally unknown until he descended during the events of Emerald version.  Even the myths of Groudon and Kyogre’s first battle seem to have forgotten him, mentioning only the Red and Blue Orbs that calmed the titans.  However, he is in fact the only one who can calm them once they start fighting.  Alone, either Pokémon can be pacified by the matching Orb (or awakened by the opposite Orb) but once their attention is fixed on each other, neither Orb helps.  My version, then… Rayquaza was set to act as the guardian of the sky, to protect the world from any threats from outer space – meteors, for instance (as in Mystery Dungeon), or flares of cosmic radiation – but also to guard the sky against threats from below.  Kyogre and Groudon were made to sculpt the surface of the earth and will awaken every century or so, independently of each other, to shake things up a little before returning to sleep.  For both of them to wake up at the same time is much rarer, and will lead to a catastrophic battle; their instincts drive them to make the world around them resemble themselves, and they will sense  each other’s opposite powers as threats.  They will fight on and on, their clashing weather manipulation powers creating storms and cyclones that grow more powerful the longer they stay awake.  Eventually – after weeks, months or even years – the chaos will disturb Rayquaza’s domain in the stratosphere, causing him to descend and nullify their weather powers with his Air Lock aura.  With their powers dampened, Groudon and Kyogre simply cease to view each other as threats and return to their slumber in their own time.  The Orbs were created by an ancient civilisation with Rayquaza’s assistance, after the survivors of an earlier cataclysm witnessed him calming the titans.  They are similar to Arceus’ plates, in that each embodies and reflects the power of an element in its most passive form.  The proximity of the appropriate Orb allows Kyogre and Groudon to feel at peace, as though surrounded by boundless ocean or land, and renders them gentle.  Once the Orbs began to be used to control the titans, it could be ensured that they would never be awake at the same time.  Rayquaza no longer needed to calm them, and retreated into the stratosphere.  The sky dragon faded from legend, and eventually the purpose of the Orbs was forgotten too… until Maxie and Archie, misunderstanding the stories that the Orbs were used to “control” the titans, used them to awaken Groudon and Kyogre.  Feeling as though surrounded by powers opposite to their own, both Pokémon lashed out… and you all know the rest of the story.

 

Mewtwo, of course, is Mew’s ‘child,’ created from Mew’s DNA by human scientists including Blaine and Mr. Fuji using advanced genetic manipulation techniques with the aim of building the ultimate fighting Pokémon.  Unfortunately, Mewtwo rebelled against his creators, destroyed the old laboratory on Cinnabar Island where he was born, and escaped.  He is now considered to be the most savage and violent of all Pokémon.  Journals found in the burnt-out Cinnabar mansion suggest that Mew gave birth to Mewtwo, which doesn’t seem to fit the image found elsewhere of Mewtwo being grown in a tube.  Also, the games do not support the story given by the movie that Giovanni and Team Rocket were backing the scientists who created Mewtwo (though they don’t necessarily contradict it either).  So, what do I make of all this?  Well, the first thing that strikes me as unusual is that Mewtwo was supposedly a genetically ‘upgraded’ version of Mew… whose DNA already contains the genes of all other Pokémon.  What could the scientists possibly add to that?  I can think of two answers.  The first possibility is that Mewtwo is part human, which would have interesting implications for the way humans view Pokémon: apparently, when told to create the ultimate Pokémon, they do it by adding human DNA.  The other possibility – the one I’m actually going to run with – is that they didn’t actually add anything at all, but created Mewtwo by shaving off most of what they considered “junk DNA” – the genes of all the other, less combat-ready Pokémon assimilated by Mew over the years, as well as the regulatory genes that allow Mew to do her thing in the first place.  Mew reproduces by parthenogenesis (‘virgin birth’), passing on all the DNA she has ever collected to her child to ensure that her work need not by interrupted by such trivialities as age and death.  When the scientists who had discovered her began to tamper with the embryo’s DNA, however, her body detected the changes, decided that it had made some kind of mistake, and jettisoned Mewtwo prematurely in order to try again later, forcing the scientists to incubate him in his tube (this may well have happened several times, each time resulting in an unviable embryo, before Mewtwo was successfully incubated).  As a result, Mewtwo is missing huge amounts of the DNA Mew collected, but still retains many of the instincts that allow her to fulfil her purpose.  He knows that something is badly wrong with him, and that despite his awesome powers he is fundamentally incomplete, but he cannot understand why, and could not correct the problem if he did.  No wonder his mental health leaves something to be desired.

Feel free to let my heavily embellished versions of events sway your votes, or not, as the whim strikes you.  Me, I’m just trying to make sense of what I’ve got and establish a nice, internally consistent version of the setting.  I hope I’ve managed to avoid contradicting myself so far…