What defines a pokemon's species?

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Thread: What defines a pokemon's species?

  1. #1
    The Darkest Magikarp Karpi's Avatar
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    Default What defines a pokemon's species?

    [I am assuming I have permission to create this thread]

    BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO WHAT CONSTITUTES A SPECIES IN THE REAL WORLD
    It initially appears obvious what a different species is. A dog cannot produce offspring with a cat, a horse only makes infertile offspring with a donkey, and so on. This works for us most of the time. It doesn't, however, work very with to classify plants, as a large majority if not all plants can breed and produce fertile offspring with other plants that are not considered the same species. This definition also does not hold up well when classifying protists and everything smaller than that, as a lot of micro-organisms reproduce asexually. In these cases biologists assign arbitrary borders to what constitutes a species based on a set of shared characteristics of that population.

    AS APPLIED IN POKEMON
    In pokemon, we have Egg Groups, which is a group that all of the members within can interbreed to produce fertile offspring. This looks encouraging at first, but there are a lot of gray areas, such as the ability of Ludicolo to breed with Tropius or Mantine but the inability of Tropius to breed with Mantine. So I'm curious to see what the community thinks about what defines a pokemon species. The most obvious method of separating evolutionary lines is more or less equivalent to the plant system of species classification - a set of arbitrary characteristics shared by the population. This may be the best that we can do, but maybe not!

    -Slowpoke's evolutionary line and Squirtle's are both in the Water 1 egg group and the Monster egg group, and therefore have an identical set of possible breeding partners. Does this make them the same species?
    -Since there are plant-classification-like pokemon (Ludicolo-Tropius-Mantine example), animal-classification-like pokemon (Slowpoke-Squirtle), and asexual-classification-like pokemon (all asexual pokemon such as Magnemite), should there be a variety of species classification systems used in combination?
    -Cranidos can breed with the Monster egg group even though it was revived from a fossil thousands of years old. How is it possible for the species of "breeding only within the Monster egg group" to have developed such diversity in appearance and characteristics and yet apparently not have evolved for however long Cranidos has been extinct?
    -Is Relicanth the probable common ancestor of Remoraid, Octillery, and Alomomola, as all share the same combination of Water 2 + Water 1 egg groups?
    -Is the origin of Luvdisc as a deformed mutant of Alomomola, since it retains the ability to breed within Water 2 but lost the ability to breed with Water 1? Additionally, if a Luvdisc breeds with Alomomola, the offspring may relearn some of the abilities lost by its Luvdisc parent (egg moves)

    Is it possible to use this data to construct a pokemon phylogeny tree?
    Last edited by Karpi; 23rd September 2013 at 04:03 PM.

  2. #2
    I want to rp! Te-em's Avatar
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    Default Re: What defines a pokemon's species?

    "Ludicolo to breed with Tropius or Mantine but the inability of Tropius to breed with Mantine"

    It seems that Ludicolo is somehow related to Tropius and Mantine, but Tropius and Mantine aren't (direclty) related, as if they were descendants of Ludicolo.

    Another question we can discuss is, why is the offspring always in the shape of the mother? The games do have technicial limitations of course and can't generate fusions. But those limitations aside, how can we explain this?

    I don't have much knowledge about biology, but this is still an interesting topic. I know there are people who have tried to make an evolution tree of Pokemon. I wonder if they based that on the egg groups.
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    The Darkest Magikarp Karpi's Avatar
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    Default Re: What defines a pokemon's species?

    Quote Originally Posted by Te-em View Post
    "Ludicolo to breed with Tropius or Mantine but the inability of Tropius to breed with Mantine"

    It seems that Ludicolo is somehow related to Tropius and Mantine, but Tropius and Mantine aren't (direclty) related, as if they were descendants of Ludicolo.
    OH! That seems so obvious in hindsight, lol. It also helps to see that a tree could theoretically be formed.

    Another question we can discuss is, why is the offspring always in the shape of the mother? The games do have technicial limitations of course and can't generate fusions. But those limitations aside, how can we explain this?
    Perhaps nearly every pokemon's genome is such that the X chromosome contains the vast majority of their useful genes. The father still contributes some things - i.e. whether or not Luvdisc can learn Heal Pulse - but the mother's X chromosome could possibly be responsible for a lot. Although the results of this theory are that male pokemon follow the pattern established by the games, but female pokemon would still be fusions, so idk if it's possible to explain.

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    Fire Fanatic ShadOBabe's Avatar
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    Default Re: What defines a pokemon's species?

    I don't know what exactly the source was, but I remember seeing something in the first gen that stated that all Pokemon are actually the same creature/species.

    I will flat out state that this was and still is absurd.
    There is too much variety, and from gen II on, we know that some CANNOT breed with each other.
    But the variety of Pokemon in just one Egg Group does raise some eyebrows. Some things just have to se seen as the silly things they are. I mean a Skitty and Wailord can have an egg and have viable offspring. Forget the size difference, what about the completely different environments?

    And then other things that make no sense if you hold the Pokemon world to the conventions of our own. Why are all Pokemon eggs the same size? The games demonstrate that you can carry any of them around without much difficulty.

    You just can't call a Skitty and a Wailord the same species.
    They aren't. They aren't even subspecies. However they can still have kids. While I prefer to believe in the standard breeding conventions in my own Pokemon headcanon, it really seems that Pokemon breeding is based in some sort of magic. As if they just decide to have an egg and one just appears. And in the anime it seems like eggs don't really hatch, they look more like they evolve (now days anyway). This could explain why all eggs are the same shape and size no matter the species.

    Bottom line, Pokemon species and breeding makes no sense if you try to connect it with the rules of our own world.

  5. #5
    The Darkest Magikarp Karpi's Avatar
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    Default Re: What defines a pokemon's species?

    So, I experimented with the Fairy egg group (and others, but they are all WIP for now) and it does initially appear to be possible to construct a pokemon phylogeny tree. What I did was to take the pokemon that were in the Fairy group AND another egg group, and I assume those are the "ancestor" pokemon. The ones that are in the Fairy-only group I assume to be the descendents, because they have evolutionarily diverged to the point where they can no longer breed with pokemon in the second egg group.

    The way I assigned descendent pokemon was to assume that type was the most common inherited trait (and thus Plusle/Minun descend from Pikachu), and for those where there was more than one possible choice for placement, I looked at the egg moves it could learn and assigned it to the most common parent to pass down egg moves.

    I also combined Pikachu/Snubbull/Skitty/Mawile/Pachirisu as a single species, which may be controversial since it would be extremely diverse just within the single species. But they have an identical set of breeding partners and outcomes, so there was no way to differentiate them further. You will also see this in the descendent row when I post what I have done with the Bug egg group, in which one of the descendent species from Surskit is Caterpie/Ledyba/Combee/Yanma. Additionally, there are chains of descendents that go more than 2 levels, with a chain existing 4 layers deep in order to show the heritage of Nincada. But that tree is definitely WIP (especially because Kricketot has no egg moves, so I might have to look at who Kricketune gives egg moves to, which would take a while).

    Also, specific to the fairy group, Phione was technically an ancestor species but I moved him to a subset of Manaphy since it appears to be a mutated offspring of it. (And then the Phione species developed Marill-like characteristics in half the population lol, I know some of the pairing are nonsensical, but it IS necessary to insist that Marill and Phione are the same species and one of their evolutionary descendents is Clefairy, because the chart won't work if I try to separate things based on arbitrary traits like appearance)

    As of right now, the fairy egg group lineage with ancestors left justified and the descendents indented on the line below their ancestor species:
    Spinda (human-like)
    Pikachu/Snubbull/Skitty/Mawile/Pachirisu (field)
    ------Plusle/Minun
    ------Jigglypuff
    Togetic (flying)
    ------Audino/Chansey
    Manaphy (water 1)
    ------Marill/Phione (water 1)
    ------------Clefairy
    Hoppip/Cottonee/Shroomish/Roselia/Cherubi (grass)
    Castform (amorphous)
    Snorunt (mineral)

    I assume some of the other ancestor species like Hoppip and Snorunt will be expanded with the addition of the other egg groups, but I haven't gotten that far yet. This is just a proof of concept.

    Another interesting fact is that we can estimate using the placement of the fossil pokemon which of the current pokemon are very old species. It appears at this moment from my very basic sketch of the field-monster part of the tree that Rhyhorn gave rise to Cranidos and Shieldon, which would make Rhyhorn a very old species indeed. Additionally, Chimchar appears to be the progenitor of at least half of the fire pokemon, so make of that what you will.
    Last edited by Karpi; 24th September 2013 at 12:25 PM.

  6. #6
    I want to rp! Te-em's Avatar
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    Default Re: What defines a pokemon's species?

    I was wondering about the Pokemon who only exist in the fairy group and no other egg group. Are the descendants deep into the group, that is further from the root of the tree, since they only breed within the group/tree? Oh, I see now this is what you have done. It makes sense that Pokemon closer to the root of the tree have relations to other egg groups, since new groups branch before the single-group Pokemon appear, for these Pokemon cannot branch to new groups.

    For instance, Pikachuu would be the one Pokemon placed at where the whole tree branch off to the fairy subtree and the field subtree. Any Pokemon after Pikachuu in the fairy subtree are fairy-group only Pokemon, so they can't appear before Pikachuu in the tree. If the tree is structured this way, then it means that a Pokemon can breed with any Pokemon that is on a lower branch or a sibling (a neigbour branch). If Pikachuu is however a leaf of the field subtree, then the rule doesn't work, because that would make all field Pokemon breedable with the fairy group.

    I wonder also how for instance Manaphy from Water 1 will be placed, since this would be the connection between Water 1 and Fairy. Both Pikachuu and Manaphy will join the fairy group from two different groups. It feels like a graph to me rather than a tree; perhaps I'll have to draw this structure to see how it really works.

    But what you have started is how I was thinking as well. I'll try to add new groups and see what happens.

    EDIT: Now I'm starting to get a hang of this; you group the Pokemon if they branch from the same group (e.g. field), like you do with Pikachuu, Pachirisu etc. Then fairy-onlys come after them.

    It's likely to be a graph anyway, because fairy contains water 1 and field, and field contains water 1. My question is then, how can Pokemon from water 1 evolve to (fairy) Pokemon who can breed with (fairy) Pokemon who are descendants from field Pokemon? If water 1 and field are older that is. Then perhaps the monster group is older than the field and water 1, but why do the groups branch to unite again at fairy?
    Last edited by Te-em; 24th September 2013 at 02:55 PM.
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  7. #7
    The Darkest Magikarp Karpi's Avatar
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    Default Re: What defines a pokemon's species?

    Quote Originally Posted by Te-em View Post
    I wonder also how for instance Manaphy from Water 1 will be placed, since this would be the connection between Water 1 and Fairy. Both Pikachuu and Manaphy will join the fairy group from two different groups. It feels like a graph to me rather than a tree; perhaps I'll have to draw this structure to see how it really works.
    Yes, you have to draw it in order to understand. It was hard for me to try and convey my idea by typing it out. I'll probably post an example picture later, but the basic idea is that Pikachu and Manaphy are both top-level groups. They descended from the last common pokemon ancestor (Ditto, I presume).
    It's likely to be a graph anyway, because fairy contains water 1 and field, and field contains water 1. My question is then, how can Pokemon from water 1 evolve to (fairy) Pokemon who can breed with (fairy) Pokemon who are descendants from field Pokemon? If water 1 and field are older that is. Then perhaps the monster group is older than the field and water 1, but why do the groups branch to unite again at fairy?
    I'm not sure what you're asking here. Phione is water 1 AND fairy, and has a fairy-only descendent (Clefairy) that lost the ability to breed with the water 1 group. It's also possible that when I do the Water 1 tree that Phione will have a water 1-only descendent that lost the ability to breed with the fairy group. If that didn't explain your question, you might have to rephrase it for me.

    Thanks for the interest!

    EDIT: This is essentially what my idea looks like:

    The problem here is that there are going to be like 40 top-level groups when I'm finished, but I can't think of a better method atm. This is obviously also only for the fairy group, as Hoppip's species gains a decent sized sub-tree from the grass egg group

    EDIT2: God, I wasted so much time on this today. There are 33 species descending directly from Ditto, so I need to either come up with some clever way to display that or find some way to group them
    Last edited by Karpi; 24th September 2013 at 10:55 PM.

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    Default Re: What defines a pokemon's species?

    Pokemon are a single ring species : Ring species - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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    Registered User reynard's Avatar
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    Default Re: What defines a pokemon's species?

    It this thread too old to reply to? I haven't been here in a while. Anyway, I find the idea an interesting one. But as some people here have pointed out, the Egg Group thing is rather ridiculous (Skitty and Wailord being the classic example).

    You have to take these things with a grain of salt. The Egg Group thing was clearly a game mechanic meant to teach moves. They did TRY to group the eggs by some similarities (broad though they were), but it is still a game mechanic, one that doesn't translate well into a story medium. In my personal headcanon, I tend to ignore the Egg Group thing entirely because it's just too weird, and instead go with the idea that Pokemon breed between themselves. I also never liked the idea that the Pokemon resulting from these mixes was also the same species as the mother, because that's also too weird. Then again, I also didn't like some of the genderless and all-male designations.

    When it comes to species and classification, I think you may need to start from the ground up. You may not be able to use all the same categories here because of the strangeness of Pokemon itself. You were right to start the tree with types. Types should be up near the top, at least primary type. Secondary types are another story. After that would be organizing them by specific physical characteristics I guess. The general ideas of Egg Groups might help you there.

    Oh, and for reference the idea that Pokemon are all one species was from The Electric Tales of Pikachu manga. As far as species goes, or the closest thing to a species category, I'd put whole evolutionary lines in there, or classify it by the highest form. Remember, evolutionary stages in Pokemon are supposed to be like life stages, so all stages represent the same creature. Pokemon like Pikachu and Pachirisu may be related in some way, what with their similar bodies and all, but I wouldn't put that relationship as far down as a species, or the equivalent of species in the biological classification system of the Pokemon world.

    In my personal headcanon, I view that groups of Mew started developing certain sets of type genes, creating ancestors for each type. But Ditto, while a "Normal" type, is descended from it's own group of Mew because of it's Transform ability. Does that help you at all?

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