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Pokémon, or “Pocket Monsters,” are the celebrities of the massively well-liked franchise of the identical identify that spans video video games, buying and selling playing cards, TV exhibits, films and toys. What makes these fictional creatures so interesting to so many individuals is, partially, their uncanny resemblance to real-world animals.
For instance, probably the most well-known Pokémon, Pikachu, is an electric-type mouse that’s impressed partly by Pikas — a gaggle of small mountain-dwelling mammals present in Asia and North America, Dwell Science beforehand reported.
It would not take a genius to establish the inspiration for many Pokémon. For instance, Rattata is clearly a rat, Pidove is a pigeon and Ekans is unquestionably a snake (Ekans is even “snake” spelled backward). Typically the hyperlink is extra obscure: Donphan might be primarily based on an elephant and Tentacruel resembles a jellyfish. And a few Pokémon look like primarily based on animals so obscure that some individuals in all probability don’t know they really exist in actual life. From Sandshrew to Shellos, listed here are a few of our favourite Pokémon characters and their secret animal doppelgängers.
Associated: 13 extraordinarily unusual animal ft
Sandshrew is a pangolin
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Kicking off this record is Sandshrew, one of many unique 151 Pokémon launched within the Technology I video games Purple and Blue. Whereas the identify is made up of the phrases “sand” and “shrew” and comes underneath the mouse class of Pokémon, Sandshew seems extra like a pangolin or an armadillo, each of which may curl up right into a ball like Sandshrew within the “Pokémon” TV sequence. Nevertheless, it most resembles the Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica).
Singapore Zoo took in a rescued 6-week-old Sunda pangolin in 2017 and nicknamed it “Sandshrew” due to the similarities between this animal and the Pokémon. Sunda pangolins are among the many most trafficked mammals on Earth. Killed for his or her meat and scales, the Worldwide Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the species as critically endangered, with a particularly excessive danger of extinction. The actual-life Sandshrew was safely returned to the wild in 2018 and was tracked as a part of pangolin conservation efforts, based on The Straits Instances, a newspaper in Singapore.
Sandshrew the Pokémon, in the meantime, seems in Season 1, Episode 6: “Clefairy and the Moon Stone,” amongst others.
Relicanth is a coelacanth
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Relicanth is a twin water- and rock-type Pokémon that first appeared within the Technology III video games Ruby and Sapphire. The blended typing of this Pokémon is becoming given the historical past of their real-life counterparts, coelacanths.
Coelacanths are an historic group of fish that date again a whole bunch of tens of millions of years within the geological file and are sometimes described as “dwelling fossils,” as a result of their physique form has barely modified over tens of millions of years. Researchers started discovering coelacanth fossils within the 1800s and believed these fish have been extinct till an angler caught a reside one off the coast of South Africa in 1938, Dwell Science beforehand reported.
Relicanth has the same story web page on the Pokémon web site, which states, “This Pokémon was found throughout deep-sea exploration. Its look hasn’t modified in 100,000,000 years, so is named a dwelling fossil.”
Relicanth first starred in Season 6, Episode 2: “A Destroy with a View.”
Caterpie is a swallowtail caterpillar
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Caterpie is a bug-type Pokémon that was additionally one of many unique 151 entries within the franchise and one of many first Pokémon caught by protagonist Ash Ketchum within the first sequence of the TV present, which debuted in 1997. To most individuals, Caterpie may appear to be an odd decide for this record as a result of it’s clearly primarily based on a caterpillar, as its identify so clearly suggests. Nevertheless, the lovable inexperienced insect are doubtless primarily based instantly on the caterpillars of a number of swallowtail butterflies — a gaggle of greater than 500 tropical butterflies from the household Papilionidae — significantly the Asian swallowtail (Papilio xuthus), spicebush swallowtail (Papilio troilus) and jap tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus).
Essentially the most exceptional similarity between Caterpie and the swallowtail caterpillars is its physique form; Caterpie seems to have a cartoonishly massive head, however the swallowtail caterpillars have a equally huge noggin. Like Caterpie, swallowtail caterpillars have eye spots, or eye-like rings which can be used to scare off birds.
The unusual, fork-shaped protrusion, generally known as an osmeterium, on Caterpie’s head can also be discovered on the real-life caterpillars. The osmeterium is a defensive organ discovered solely in swallowtail larvae, which may emit a foul odor that repels small bugs and spiders. Caterpie’s head fork has a remarkably comparable operate that it makes use of to “drive away enemies,” based on the Pokémon web site.
Caterpie’s evolutions, or the Pokémon it transforms into, additionally mimic the metamorphosis of caterpillars into butterflies: Caterpie evolves into Metapod, a dwelling cocoon much like these created by caterpillars, earlier than shortly evolving into Butterfree, which is most undoubtedly a butterfly. Nevertheless, in an uncommon twist, Butterfree is most certainly primarily based on a black-veined white butterfly (Aporia crataegi) from the distantly associated household Pieridae.
Dragalge is a leafy seadragon
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Dragalge is a dragon- and poison-type Pokémon that was first launched within the Technology VI video games, Pokémon X and Y. Each Dragalge and its pre-evolution kind, Skrelp, are doubtless primarily based on the leafy seadragon (Phycodurus eques), a marine fish within the household Syngnathidae, which additionally contains pipefish and seahorses.
Leafy seadragons are discovered alongside the western and jap coasts of Australia and are named after the leafy protrusions discovered throughout their our bodies. These protrusions are literally flaps of pores and skin and are used solely for camouflage, to make them appear like items of floating seaweed.
In contrast to Dragalge, leafy seadragons usually are not toxic. Within the video games, it’s revealed that Dragalge’s toxic nature is because of the Pokémon’s weight loss program of “poisonous,” rotten kelp. This might be a reference to an ongoing downside within the Caribbean, the place unusually massive blooms of seaweed from the genus Sargassum float onto the shore and launch a foul-smelling gasoline, hydrogen sulfide. A 2021 research discovered that extended publicity to hydrogen sulfide could make native residents really feel very unwell. Nevertheless, leafy seadragons really eat small crustaceans and fish larvae that they suck up via their lengthy snouts and never seaweed.
Dewpider is a diving bell spider
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Dewpider and its evolutionary kind, Araquanid, have a neat trick that is mirrored in nature: The water- and bug-type Pokémon use water bubbles to outlive and battle on land. “Dewpider usually lives underwater. When it comes onto land seeking meals, it takes water with it within the type of a bubble on its head,” based on the Pokémon web site.
Diving bell spiders (Argyroneta aquatica) use the same technique, however with one key characteristic reversed: The actual-life arachnids spend nearly all of their lives underwater utilizing air bubbles replenished from the floor to breathe, like eight-legged scuba divers, Dwell Science beforehand reported.
Corsola is a staghorn coral colony
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Corsola was launched within the Technology II video games Gold and Silver and is a favourite of Ash’s TV companion and the Pokémon area Kanto’s in-game health club chief Misty. Corsola’s design seems to be primarily based on staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis), a species of stony coral with cylindrical branches much like the water-shooting limbs on Corsola’s again. Staghorn corals are usually yellow, however they will additionally seem extra pinkish, like Corsola. (And sure, corals are colonial animals, not vegetation, in order that they’re honest sport for this record.)
Stony corals equivalent to staghorn coral excrete calcium carbonate, also called limestone, to kind a tough exoskeleton that provides them their rocky look. Fittingly, Corsola is, due to this fact, a twin water- and rock-type Pokémon. Within the TV present, Corsolas are sometimes proven in social teams that be a part of collectively to kind massive constructions inhabited by different water Pokémon. That is much like how a number of coral colonies be a part of collectively to kind coral reefs, that are the ocean’s most efficient and numerous habitats. Within the Pokémon area Hoenn, a floating wood village generally known as Pacifidlog City is definitely constructed on prime of one among these “Corsola reefs.”
Within the Technology VIII video games, Sword and Protect, a brand new Galarian model of Corsola was launched. This model is all white with a depressing expression on its face and is a ghost kind as a substitute of a water and rock kind. Within the video games it’s revealed that Corsola has suffered from the real-world coral illness generally known as coral bleaching, a phenomenon during which corals’ photosynthetic algal symbionts are expelled resulting from rising ocean temperatures attributable to local weather change. Bleaching leaves the corals colorless and infrequently kills them. Staghorn coral is without doubt one of the many coral species which have been majorly impacted by coral bleaching, and it’s presently listed as critically endangered, based on the IUCN Purple Listing.
Terrakion is a takin
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Terrakion is a legendary Pokémon launched within the Technology V video games Black and White. Its animal doppelgänger is a takin (Budorcas taxicolor), a powerfully constructed mammal that appears much like a musk ox however is extra intently associated to a wild sheep, based on The Nature Conservancy. Takins roam the jap Himalayas of Bhutan, China, Tibet, India and Myanmar as much as 13,000 ft (4,000 meters) above sea stage.
Terrakion and takins are each powerfully constructed quadrupeds with the same physique form. The twin rock- and fighting-type Terrakion weighs 573 kilos (260 kilograms), based on the Pokémon web site. Takins additionally weigh a whole bunch of kilos, with the heaviest tipping the scales at greater than 770 kilos (350 kg). The 2 creatures even have comparable names, and Terrakion’s shiny kind (extraordinarily uncommon variations of Pokémon with an altered colour) is gold, just like the coat of some takins.
There’s just one Terrakion in every sport the Pokémon seems in. Takins aren’t fairly as uncommon as their fictional counterparts, however the species is susceptible to extinction and threatened by human actions equivalent to looking and deforestation, based on the IUCN.
Remoraid is a remora (and in addition an archerfish)
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Remoraid is a water-type Pokémon first launched within the Technology II video games. It’s an uncommon addition to this record as a result of it’s really remarkably much like two utterly totally different households of fish, remoras (Echeneidae) and archerfish (Toxotidae).
Remoras are eel-like fish with modified dorsal fins that act as suction cups on the tops of their heads. The fish use these sticky disks, which have impressed grippy robots, to connect themselves to sharks and rays and hitchhike across the oceans, thus limiting their vitality output and feeding off scraps left by their hosts. Remoraid has the same physique form to remoras’ however lacks the suction cup brow.
Nevertheless, it does have the same symbiotic relationship with the ray Pokémon Mantyke and Mantine. Within the video games, when Mantyke ranges up with a Remoraid in the identical social gathering (a gaggle of as much as six Pokémon carried by a coach into battles), it evolves into Mantine, which is a bigger model of Mantyke with a Remoraid completely connected underneath its wing. However with out a Remoraid current, it can not evolve.
Archerfish are a gaggle of freshwater fish that shoot water at bugs, spiders and even small lizards on low-hanging leaves. This causes them to fall off their perches and into the water, the place they’re wolfed up by the deadeye fish. Archerfish have remarkably good goal and might hit their targets from as much as 6.5 ft (2 m) away, Dwell Science beforehand reported. Remoraid hunts the bug-type Pokémon Burmy, which is roofed with leaves, utilizing the same technique. Nevertheless, in contrast to its real-life doppelgänger, the fictional Remoraid is supposedly able to hitting its goal from 300 ft (91.5 m) away, incomes it the nickname the “sniper of the seas.”
Remoraid has one different scientifically implausible trait. When leveled up, it evolves into Octillery, a Pokémon that clearly resembles an octopus. Other than each dwelling within the sea, there may be not lots that connects the 2 teams of animals, which makes Remoraid’s evolutionary chain some of the weird in the complete franchise.
Wooper is a newt (and an axolotl)
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Wooper is a twin water- and ground-type Pokémon launched in Technology II. The unique Wooper might have made it onto this record by itself resulting from its similarities with the axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum), an aquatic salamander with exterior gills on its head.
Nevertheless, a brand new regional type of Wooper will likely be arriving within the upcoming video video games Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. This new “Paldean Wooper” has extra intriguing similarities with a kind of newt; it’s poison- and ground-type with the power “Poison Level,” that means it has an opportunity to poison different Pokémon that make contact with it, based on the Pokémon web site. It additionally has bones, as a substitute of gills, protruding of its head.
The brand new design is probably going impressed by the Iberian ribbed newt (Pleurodeles waltl), which has a “Poison Level” of its personal, GamesRadar+ beforehand reported. A 2010 research printed within the Journal of Zoology explains that Iberian ribbed newts secrete poison and push their sharp ribs via their very own pores and skin to jab predators.
Wooper pops up throughout the “Pokémon” TV sequence, together with in Season 4, Episode 12: “Magnificence and the Breeder.”
Shellos is a nudibranch
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Shellos is a water-type Pokémon that was first launched in Technology IV video games Diamond and Pearl. Unusually, there are two types of Shellos: the pink kind that lives within the West Sea of the Sinnoh area, and the blue kind lives within the East Sea. Although they’ve barely totally different physique shapes, each kinds are believed to be primarily based on nudibranchs, a gaggle of greater than 3,000 soft-bodied sea slugs within the order Nudibranchia.
Nudibranchs are available in a big selection of colours and physique shapes. The blue type of Shellos seems most much like Loch’s chromodoris (Chromodoris lochi), a blue nudibranch that has tiny horns and is discovered within the Indo-Pacific area. It’s unclear which species of nudibranch the pink type of Shellos relies on, however it may take inspiration from quite a few species.
Within the TV episode “Gateway to Destroy!” it’s revealed that the formation of Mt. Coronet (the mountain that splits the Sinnoh area) geographically remoted the unique Shellos, inflicting them to evolve into totally different kinds. In the true world, this phenomenon is called an allopatric speciation occasion, and it has occurred continuously within the evolutionary previous of many modern-day animal and plant species, equivalent to Darwin’s finches within the Gallapagos Islands.
Listed below are just a few extra shocking Pokémon doppelgängers that deserve shoutouts.
Poliwag is a glass frog tadpole (Hyalinobatrachium orientale), all the way down to its swirly stomach (significantly, try the photographs from this 2015 research).
Fennekin is a Fennec fox (Vulpes zerda) and might vent hearth from its ears much like the way in which this species of fox expel warmth via theirs to remain cool.
Surskit is a kind of water strider, a household of long-legged bugs within the order Hemiptera that may skate throughout the tops of ponds.
Joltik is a four-legged model of a leaping spider, from the household Salticidae, that doubtless will get its electrical kind because of current discoveries about how spiders use electrical energy to fly by ballooning their silk.
Bruxish is a reef triggerfish (Rhinecanthus rectangulus), also called humuhumunukunukuāpuaʻa, which is the Hawaii state fish.
Dubwool is a Scottish Hebridean sheep or a Jacob sheep, two breeds of sheep which have 4 horns identical to the Pokémon.
Clauncher is a pistol shrimp, from the household Alpheidae, which has one oversize claw identical to the water-type Pokémon. Clauncher’s bright-blue colour can also be doubtless impressed by blue crayfish (Procambarus alleni).
Initially printed on Dwell Science.