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reynard

Pokemon Headcanon: Dragon and Ice Type Analysis

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Ah, Dragon types. This type would have been named so for their physical resemblance to mythical dragons. I suppose a researcher brought up the similarity and the name stuck. Dragon types are really powerful creatures, and though not every member of an evolutionary line looks like a dragon of any kind (like Goomy) they do eventually look like one, at least for the pure types.

Their only weaknesses used to be other dragons (understandable) and Ice type attacks before the creation of the Fairy type. The fact that they are vulnerable to Ice attacks says something very telling about how their bodies work. Mythical dragons are usually thought of as reptilian, like lizards or snakes. Dragon types are like that too. If they are weak to ice attacks, this means they, like reptiles, may be cold-blooded.

Let me explain how this particular detail work work. Among the ways to classify animals, you have warm-blooded (mammals for example) and cold-blooded (like reptiles). Warm blooded means that a creature isn't completely dependent on their environment to maintain their preferred internal conditions. Your body has certain conditions it likes in order to function, certain amounts of water, a certain temperature, etc. When you are hot, you sweat. Why? Because water absorbs a lot of heat before it evaporates, and excess heat is pouring off your skin. The sweat will evaporate on your skin and help cool you off faster, helping to maintain balance.

When you are cold, you shiver. Heat is kinetic energy, energy of movement. Shivering helps generate some amount of heat to keep you warmer. If you get really, really cold, like hypothermia, a mammal has other responses. A mammal will constrict the blood vessels in the extremities, the arms and legs. Blood contains water, so it carries heat. Tightening the vessels forces it back towards the internal organs where the heat is most needed. That's why your fingers may hurt. This also ends up raising your core body temperature.

By the way, the Mythbusters found that drinking that brandy carried by those St. Bernards is the worst thing to do, as alcohol loosens the blood vessels and will make your temperature drop like a rock. It's better, they said, to hug the warm furry St. Bernard. :)

Anyway, cold blooded reptiles, being cold blooded, are 100% dependent on their environment to maintain their body temperature. If they are hot, they need to go somewhere cool. If they are cold, they need to find a heat source. Even their eggs are temperature dependent. While eggs need a bare amount of heat to incubate period, a slight variation beyond that determines the gender of a reptile. Cooler temperatures produce males, warmer ones make females.

An anecdote before a chapter in my old Chem I book enlightened me of just how vulnerable lizards are to the cold. Your muscles use particular reactions to make them move. All things do that. Chemical reactions happen at different rates. Some are fast, some are slow. Sometimes you can add things to a reaction to speed it up, this is a catalyst. Heat energy is added to muscles to accelerate the process, without which is very slow.

The story I read recalled the best way the writer knew of to catch lizards as a child. He and his friends would dump ice water on one. Cold is when heat is drained from a warmer object to a cooler one. The ice water would sap heat out of the lizard's muscles. Without heat, the reaction in it's muscles would slow down. And since it was cold-blooded, they can't do a thing about it. The lizard would either slow down tremendously or be completely immobilized until it warmed up.

This would also happen to a Dragon type upon being hit by an ice attack. It's not that it hurts right off the bat. It would first make them vulnerable to more attacks. But eventually they would be at risk for hypothermia. I've seen some Dragon types breathe fire, like Dragonite. If this is the case, the organ they have to do that is probably built more to produce fire in a sudden flash, and not built for constant body temperature regulation. I also wonder if Dragon type eggs and the gender of a Dragon type would be temperature-dependent like other reptiles.

Dragon types are, from what I have gathered, slow to evolve. This could imply something similar to Bug types: Dragons have a longer relative lifespan, so they evolve more slowly than others. Dragons seem very powerful, especially in how hard they hit. It's no wonder they aren't all that common. The world probably couldn't fit too many creatures of that caliber. Dragon types may also have a unique organ structure in their throat, similar to the water pump in a Water type or a flamethrower in a Fire type. I say this because of attacks like Dragon's Breath, which can potentially paralyze an opponent. Something about the contents of that breath acts as a paralytic, and it can't just be the smell.

I also say this because of creatures like Altaria. It's a dual Dragon/Flying type. From a game designer's perspective, I can accept that. They had their reasons, gameplay ones no doubt, for doing so. Then there are mythological influences in the design. But it's strange when you think about it from the perspective of a researcher in the Pokemon world. Pretend you are one and you just discovered Altaria. What type is it? Flying makes sense. But why Dragon and not, say, Normal, like many Flying types? Nothing about Altaria physically screams dragon. So why would a researcher label it as Dragon/Flying rather than the more common Normal/Flying?

This implies that the Dragon-type classification includes internal parts and features rather than just external appearance. Alaria knows 4 Dragon types moves, 3 by leveling up. Only a few non-Dragon types learn some of those, and of that list, some are excluded because they evolve into dual Dragon types, or Gyarados, which is more Dragon than Flying. Since Altaria can use three of these four abilities naturally, then that indicates that whatever allows it to use them is a standard part of the biological definition of "Altaria". So the Dragon typing makes sense factoring in these internal parts, whatever those are.

The immunity of Fairy types is one thing I can't really explain very well yet. Something in the nature of Fairy types allows them to completely avoid damage from these attacks.

Now on to Ice types. Pure Ice types are also very rare, indicating that it's not a set of genes with a ton of advantages that's used by a lot of Pokemon. Ice types are creatures adapted to cold weather, and which live in cold climates. Ice types have been described as poor defensively because of their numerous weaknesses and only resisting itself. I think I read an article on TV Trope's fanon Pokedex using the phrase "fragile Ice types". I can't recall what it was.

But the phrase seems fitting. Ice types are adapted to harsh and possibly bleak environments, built to survive in harsh conditions with minimal resources. These are conditions where animals conserve energy and warmth. Pure Ice types probably aren't made for long hard fights, since in their home environments you wouldn't have many of those. Fragility may also been seen in what types they are weak to.

They are weak to Fighting, Rock, and Steel. Fighting types hit very hard, so things that are especially weak to them would be those that can't take hits very well, so the blows do more damage (or in the case of Rock, their primary defense crumbles). Rock types could also be said to be fairly strong because of the weight of their armor. Steel types probably use armor as well, so it is reasonable that their blows would also hurt more. Their weakness to Fire types should be fairy obvious, though this advantage is reduced if the fight occurs in the home environment of the Ice type, but that is unlikely.

Their resistance to just their own types makes sense when you consider the probability of them meeting Pokemon of other types (creatures that are neither pure or dual Ice types) in their home environments. I don't think it would be especially likely, so why would a pure Ice type have adapted any resistances to anything other than itself?

Interestingly, their weakness to Rock types is further highlighted by their general inability to use water. Ice does in fact erode rock, so right off the bat you would think Ice Beam would help destroy the armor that protects a Rock type. But it's the details that make it not work. Ice erodes rock through a process. First liquid water has to seep into a crack in a rock. Then, as temperatures drop, the water freezes, and because of the unique qualities of water, expands upon turning solid. This expansion pushes the crack open, eventually causing it to break.

Most pure Ice types don't know any water-based moves. Some of them can be taught Rain Dance, but I don't think that really works the same. It's not water that can be aimed at a spot and then frozen. Ice Beam probably works just by freezing water vapor in the air. At least that's how freeze rays are usually explained in fiction. Of course there are a couple of exceptions. Beartic can learn Aqua Jet. But that makes sense in context since Beartic is based on a polar bear, which does a lot of swimming. And Avalugg can learn Surf, but that also makes sense in context because it's based on an iceberg.

On another note, I am interested in the attack Sheer Cold. The descriptions says it hits the target with absolute zero cold, and is an instant kill. Perfectly sound considering that absolute zero is the lowest possible temperature ever. You would think Pokemon researchers would be interested in using that move in the lab. Scientists here have been wondering what would happen to matter at absolute zero (since it would mean all molecular movement would totally stop), but have always slightly missed true absolute zero. So Pokemon researchers might be able to fix that.

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Updated 6th April 2014 at 05:49 PM by reynard

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