Tag Archives: Dinosaurs

Pokemon Sword and Shield’s Amazing Potential to Honor the History of Paleontology

So, Pokemon Sword and Shield have an amazing opportunity that Gamefreak shouldn’t pass up.  And that opportunity is fossils.

As a fossil maniac, I appreciate the many different fossil Pokemon Gamefreak has designed over the years.  Some of them are based on more popular ancient animals, like the T-Rex, and others not as much, like the crinoid and Anomalocaris.  I was very disappointed that Pokemon Sun and Moon didn’t introduce new fossil Pokemon.  But I can begrudgingly accept this as Hawaii isn’t really known for its fossils.  As a string of recent land masses, Hawaii does not have a long biological history.  What fossil are preserved are destroyed as the ocean washes away the oldest islands.

But Galar is different because it’s set in England.  Not only does England have fossils but it represents the beginnings of paleontology and the birthplace of the word “dinosaur.”  Since practically ancient times, humans knew about the existence of fossils but didn’t fully understand what they represented.  They could have been mythological beasts or animals once present in the Garden of Eden.  It wasn’t until the Enlightenment era that scientists, such as anatomist Georges Cuvier, realized that these fossils belonged to animals that were thousands if not millions of years old.  That through gradual change over many, many years, animals come and go and create a succession, of sorts, to the modern era.  Even more astonishingly, some of these animals were unlike anything alive today; they were so wild and out there they deserved their own classification.

Ichthyosaurus.  Image credit: John Sibbick/Science Photo Library

A Plesiosaur

By the early 1800s, English scientists were pushing the field of paleontology from a curious idea to a serious subject.  One notable collector was Mary Anning whose achievements include finding the first Ichthyosaurus (a fish-like reptile), two nearly complete Plesiosaurus (a long-neck swimming reptile), and other fossils such as shells and a Pterosaur.   The Plesiosaurus were especially important as only bits and pieces were found until her discovery.  These additions continued speculation on what these animals are, or were, and how they fit in Earth’s history.

The curious animals became more comprehensive as new specimens came to light.  In 1824, two different fossilized animals were found and described as Megalosaurus and Iguanodon.  These animals, along with the aforementioned Ichthyosaurus and Plesiosaurus, were the inspiration of English scientist Gideon Mantell’s famous paper titled “Age of Reptiles” where he placed these animals in this era and divided it up into three periods which later became known as the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous.  Just a year after this publication Mantell founded and described another ancient reptile which he named Hylaeosaurus in 1832.  However, it wasn’t until 1841 when famed anatomist Sir Richard Owen united Megalosaurus, Iguanodon, and Hylaeosaurus into one branch which he named “Dinosauria,” terrible lizard.

This of course is a rather brief review of Paleontology’s early history.  I encourage you to look into as it’s very fascinating.  I like the interpretation of Iguanodon as a lumbering, rhino-like giant iguana, to its modern appearance as a gracile, slender animal with a prominent thumb spike.  There’s also the Crystal Palace Dinosaurs which was possibly one of the first, large-scale interpretations of ancient animals.  The park contains all the previously mentioned animals and more.

Image result for crystal palace dinosaurs dinner

While the park dinosaurs were being built, a New Year’s Eve dinner was held inside the still incomplete Iguanodon specimen which is quite frankly, a great way to start the new year!

But I would like to instead pivot back to the matter at hand.  The fossil Pokemon of Galar.  It would be very remiss of Gamefreak not to include any of these animals as Pokemon Sword and Shield’s fossils.  The way I see it we can go down two, neatly packaged, routes.

The first route is to have fossil Pokemon based on Ichthyosaurus and Plesiosaurus with their respective fossils being Tail and Flipper.  These two animals lived in the same time period in the same habitat so it wouldn’t be surprising to find fossils of them next to each other.  As for typing…well that’s probably the major downside to them.

Rock/Water is the fourth most common dual type combination in Pokemon as of Generation VII.  Both of these Pokemon would solidly be in that category (as a side note, I have very mixed feelings about Fossil Pokemon’s Rock typing so we’re ignoring that for now).  But would our Pokemon have to be Rock/Water?  Sure in Generation I both Kabutops and Omastar were Rock/Water while in Generation III, Armaldo was Rock/Bug and Cradily was Rock/Grass even though their respective animal was definitely aquatic.

With that in mind I would still give the Ichthyosaur Pokemon a Rock/Water typing since it’s just too much like a fish.  It fits it so well!  Yet for our Plesiosaur Pokemon I think we can give it Rock/Dragon without batting an eye.  Just like Armaldo it could still learn Water attacks but it would stay close to home with its dual typing.  But mark my words!!!  If it wasn’t for the Rock requirement our Plesiosaur would be Water/Dragon easily and it would be soooooo gooooood.

Let’s turn our attention to our three English Dinosaurs; Megalosaurus, Iguanodon, and Hylaeosaurus.  Hmm…right away I can see a problem…there’s three of them.  Now you could do a scenario where there’s two “regular” fossils and one “special” one like in Generation I but I don’t think we have to worry about that.  Megalosaurus is a therapod dinosaur.  A very iconic group of dinosaurs who were (about 99% of the time) carnivorous and bipedal.  Some had small heads and long arms, others had large heads and short arms but they all had similar body plans.  And as I’m sure you folks can see where I’m going with this, we already have a therapod Pokemon, Tyrantrum.

Left, a modern interpretation of Megalosaurus.  Right, the mid-1800’s interpretation of Megalosaurus.  Image credit: Mark Garlick/University of Warwick.

Unfortunately, as best as we can tell, Megalosaurus was a rather “average” looking therapod.  Nothing wrong with that but it doesn’t really stand out compared to the more outlandish therapods like Spinosaurus or Therizinosaurus.  And although Gamefreak doesn’t mind reusing animals multiple times (and even using a Monkey Grass Pokemon twice!), I think it would be a waste of time for them to reuse a standard therapod when the paleontological record offers so much more.

As a side note, it would be balls awesome if Gamefreak gave us Megalosaurus but based on its original interpretation as a quadrupedal carnivore with a fat-crocodile mouth and a dragging tail.  It would be kind of horrifying and sad for the Megalosaurus Pokemon but really cool!  Like, the lore would be that due to an incomplete skeleton, the reconstructed dinosaur could not resume its original shape and instead pieced together what it had to make its now misaligned form.  That would be wild.

Image result for iguanodon


Anyway, that leaves us with Iguanodon (Thumbspike Fossil) and Hylaeosaurus (Plate Fossil) and luckily we haven’t had dinosaurs based on them yet!   This is perfect and their body variation can really lend itself well to some cool type combinations.  First, Iguanodon, I imagined three different type combos with them.  Rock/Normal would be my initial suggestion as these guys are one of the most common dinosaurs you can find, they were basically the elk of the dinosaur world.  But you also have that trademark thumbspike that is so well known on Iguanodon that you just have to use it somehow.  Perhaps as an electrical rod?  So maybe Rock/Electric?  Maybe it can be used to inject poison into its foes so Rock/Poison?  Any of these three suggestions would be interesting.

Image result for hylaeosaurus


As for Hylaeosaurus, the armor plating, trademark of all Ankylosauria, immediately suggests a Rock/Steel type which is a nice fallback.  Hylaeosaurus also had spikes protruding from its sides which suggests a porcupine-esque defense so Rock/Poison would be delightful.  I could also imagine Gamefreak throwing a curveball and making it Rock/Fire similar to how they made Aurorus Rock/Ice.

If I had my druthers I would make Fossil Pokemon out of Iguanodon and Hylaeosaurus and make the Plesiosaur a modern Pokemon.  This works very well thanks to the folklore surrounding Nessie and the occurrence of modern fossil-based Pokemon like Aggron and Tropius.  And the Plesiosaur can be Water/Dragon which would be great!

So there you have it.  Will it happen?  I’m banking on no unfortunately.  Although Gamefreak has been doing very well lately designing Pokemon that are inspired by their respective region, I can’t imagine them going the extra mile to put that paleontology flavor in.  Now a Pokemon based on the Loch Ness Monster?  Sure, I can buy that but I won’t be holding my breath.  We shall see.  Fingers crossed!


Ancient Animals and their Fakemon: Oviraptor

Oviraptor: Therapoda Dinosaur, Late Cretaceous

The hubris of science can be ironic at times.

In 1924, a partial skeleton, known as AMNH (American Museum of Natural History) 6517 was found in the Mongolia desert next to an egg nest (AMNH 6508).  Discovered by Roy Chapman Andrews and later named by Harry Fairfield Osborn, AMNH 6517 became known as Oviraptor philoceratops.  Its name meaning “egg thief” and “lover of ceratopsians,” Oviraptor immediately became a hit and cemented itself in the pages of children’s books as the dinosaur that ate embryonic babies.

However, with such an accusatory name, no one knew what were inside the eggs.  Everyone assumed they belonged to Protoceratops due to their fossil abundance nearby.

outdated oviraptor

Oviraptor’s incomplete holotype also made it hard to determine what exactly it looked like.  The result gave them some hooooooorible paleoart.

Barsbold (1977) was among the first to question this hypothesis by analyzing the dinosaur’s skull and concluded that it had a powerful bite.  Powerful enough that it could eat hard shell organisms such as mollusks. Because of which a strict egg-only diet would make the strong jaws pointless.  Maybe it ate eggs but it probably ate a lot of other things as well.

Norell et al. (1994) finally threw credible doubt onto Osborn’s original hypothesis when they analyzed an Oviraptoridae embryo (IGM 100/971) still trapped in its shell.  IGM 100/971 looked so similar to AMNH 6508 that Norell et al. declared the latter specimen to be an Oviraptor nest.  The skeleton that was found with the nest was most likely a brooding adult and not an egg-stealing thief.

Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any other dinosaurian hypothesis that had made such a 180.  Here we have a dinosaur that was viewed with respite and now is looked upon with happiness.  To be fair, Oviraptor could have still eaten eggs as its diet but that’s not the point.  The point is that our perception of this dinosaur has changed from a baby-killing bandit to an offspring-concerned parent.  That is hilarious.

Oviraptor can also be found in the Flaming Cliffs of the Gobi Desert along with a host of other animals.  There are the small lizards and mammals and of course other dinosaurs.  Most famous of which would be Velociraptor and its rival Protoceratops, along with the weird Therizinosaurus and the ferocious Tarbosaurus.  The rock record also reveals, interestingly enough, that the climate of the time was probably similar to the modern day Gobi Desert.  A braided, teaming with life, river dominated the otherwise dry, sandy environment (Fastovsky et al. 1997).  Some dinosaurs were even uncovered in a desiccated position with their head pulled back and their spine extremely arched.  Some were just completely buried by a sandstorm such as the Oviraptor specimen discovered by Andrews.

Dinotopia, Oviraptor

From Dinotopia: A Land Apart from Time

Oviraptor has not shown up much in pop culture.  I know of two occasions; one in the documentary Dinosaur Planet and the second in the first Dinotopia book.  In the book, Oviraptor was instead called Ovinutrix (“egg wet nurse”) and they took care of dinosaur eggs in Romano’s Hatchery.  The twist?  The book came out in 1992.  Two years before Norell et al. took down the egg eating hypothesis.  What was supposed to be taken as a humorous joke instead came out as a concept that was not scientifically outdated.  What’s more, James Gurney’s, the author of Dinotopia, name change righted a wrong that should have never befallen the dinosaur in the first place.



Fakemon, Oviraptor, Ovalooter

Type: Fairy/Ghost

Stats: HP: 80,   Attack: 80,   Defense: 70,   Special Attack: 80,   Special Defense: 60,   Speed: 90

Ability: Pick Up, Frisk

Moves Learned Upon Leveling Up:


Start-Tail Whip


9-Baby Doll Eyes

13-Sand Tomb




31-Light Screen

35-Soft Boiled


43-Disarming Voice

47–Play Rough


Learnable TMs and HMs: Hone Claws, Dragon Claw, Psyshock, Calm Mind, Roar, Toxic, Hidden Power, Sunny Day, Light Screen, Safeguard, Frustration, Solar Beam, Smack Down, Earthquake, Return, Dig, Psychic, Double Team, Reflect, Sandstorm, Rock Tomb, Aerial Ace, Façade, Rest, Attract, Thief, Round, Echoed Voice, Steal Wing, Fling, Psych Up, Dragon Tail, Sleep Talk, Substitute, Confide

Egg Group: Field

Held Items: Oval Stone: 50%

Pokedex Description Version One: It loves to collect egg-shaped objects.  It’s not unusual to find one with eggs from other species.

Pokedex Description Version Two: It raises the babies of other pokemon it has found.  Prototops are the most common species they take care of.

Evolution: None known at this time

Basic Background: While driving with my gf two months ago, I said aloud, “You know, all my Ancient Fakemon came out before Generation VI.  I have no Fairy Type fakemon.  I should come up with one.” And it was right there and then that Oviraptor sprang into my head.  Of course!  Many modern paleoart interpret Oviraptoridae species with elaborate feathers.  If dinosaurian pokemon had fairies it would be the ones with elaborate feathers.

From there, she and I played around with it until we had what we wanted.  Unlike the previous two entries where I had them totally figured out and she just did the art, for Ovalooter, we came up with the ideas, design, naming, and so forth on an equal basis.

It was certainly fun coming up with a fakemon from scratch as it had been awhile for me.  This one I kind of let loose and enjoyed myself.  Ovalooter is basically a combination of Chansey and Linoone in that it just steals eggs and such and raises them as their own.  I love it.  Being a desert pokemon, Ovalooter was almost required to have that Ground Secondary Typing.  It is similar to the Nidos, Krookodile, and Flygon as Ovalooter is more of a field based pokemon and less a digging pokemon.


Barsbold, R., 1977. Kinetism and pecual structure of the jaw apparatus of oviraptors (Therapoda, Saurishia). Sovmestnaya Sovetsko-Mongol’skaya Paleontologicheskaya Ekspeditsiya Trudy, vol 163, p. 34-47.

Fastovsky, D.E., Badamgarav D., Ishimoto, H., Watabe, M., Weishampel, D.B., 1997. The Paleoenvironments of Turgrikin-Shireh (Gobi Desert, Mongolia) and Aspects of the Taphonomy and Paleoecology of Protoceratops (Dinosauria: Ornithischichia).  Palaios, vol 12, p. 59-70.

Norell, M.A., Clark, J.M., Demberelyin, D., Rhinchen, B., Chiappe, L.M., Davidson, A.R., McKenna, M.C., Altangerel, P.,  Novacek, M.J., 1994.. A Theropod Dinosaur Embryo and the Affnities of the Flaming Cliffs Dinosaur Eggs.  Science, Vol. 266, No. 5186, p. 779-782


Ancient Animals and their Fakemon: Stegosaurus

Stegosaurus: Ornithischian Dinosaur, Late Jurassic

Ask anyone in the street to name three dinosaurs and they’ll probably give you Tyrannosaurus, Triceratops, then StegosaurusStegosaurus is one of the most famous dinosaurs due to its instantly recognizable anatomy.  The big lumbering body with a comically small head, the mountainous back with huge dorsal plates, and the long spikes jutting from its tail; yes, no other dinosaur, save other stegosaurians, fit this description.  Stegosaurus was discovered by Othniel Charles Marsh during the Bone Wars in the latter part of the 1800’s.  As such, it has had a rich history of scientific curiosity and pop culture influence.

Perhaps one of the more controversial aspects of Stegosaurus is the function of their dorsal plates.  The first, and currently debunked, hypothesis was that the plates were used as defense.  However, this is unlikely due to the relatively thin plates and how they only covered the back and not the more vulnerable sides.  More likely were the two other hypotheses thermoregulation and display.

Stegosaurus could have used their plates for thermoregulation by rotating their bodies relative to the sun.  Farlow et al. (1976) were among the first researchers to test this hypothesis by designing a Stegosaurus model and observing how well the plates could absorb or dissipate heat.  Their results highly supported the hypothesis and they reasoned Stegosaurus could orient themselves relative to wind currents for better absorption or dissipation of heat.  Main et al. (2005) disagree with the thermoregulation hypothesis as there is no proper blood circulation structure that could adequately carry and dispel heat away from the body.  Also, other stegosaurians were more likely to have spikes than plates on their backs suggesting spikes were a basal trait that evolved later into plates.  As such, thermoregulation, if it even played a role, was not the main function for the Stegosaurus’ plates.

Stegosaurus, Walking with Dinosaurs

From Walking with Dinosaurs Episode 2

Main et al. (2005) concluded that the plates were more likely used for both sexual and defensive display.  Since dinosaurs had relatively good eyesight, the plates would have been highly useful for the aforementioned purposes.  Indeed, Carpenter (1998) suggested that if attacked by a foe, the Stegosaurus would laterally display its body to appear more menacing.  It would then pump blood into its plates to make them blush and appear frightening.  This behavior is well reasoned due to the highly vascularized nature of the plates.  Either way, it’s likely that the Stegosaurus employed both of these functions for its plates.


The tail spikes have a more humorous story to them.  Though some scientists simply call them “the tail spikes” others took on the more informal name of “thagomizer” which was based off of the Far Side cartoon as seen above.  Indeed, there’s really nothing else like the thagomizer and I just think the name fits.  Regardless of what you call them, there was some debate on whether the thagomizer was really used for attacking purposes or not.  Solid evidence came through in McWhinney (good lord, that’s his name?) et al. (2001) and Carpenter et al. (2005) papers. McWhinney et al., (2001) analyzed many Stegosaurian spikes and found that some of them had trauma-induced bone fractures and were healing or became diseased during their owner’s lifetime.  Carpenter et al. (2005) analyzed a healed punctured wound in an Allosaurus tail vertebra and was able to match it with the tail spikes in Stegosaurus.  Both of these evidence pieces support a willing intent for defense by Stegosaurus which in my book is pretty awesome.

Stegosaurus has shown up many many times in pop culture so I’ll try to keep the list down to the big ones.  First off, this dinosaur has been seen in several movies, initially in King Kong and later in other big movies such as The Lost World: Jurassic Park, and The Land Before Time.  It also starred in one of the most famous scenes in Fantasia; I especially remember this scene because the fight fit extraordinarily well with Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring with its loud, scary music and its build up to the climatic fight.  Stegosaurus is also a favorite in many dinosaur documentaries such as Walking with Dinosaurs and When Dinosaurs Roamed America.  Finally, and on a personal note, in the science fiction book Bones of the Earth, paleontologist and protagonist Richard Leyster was delivered a head of a Stegosaurus in the prologue so he could dissect it and be convinced that time travelling was real.  I remember reading this book in Junior High and was convinced from that scene alone that if I wanted to be a good paleontologist, I better know my biology.

Stegosaurus, Rite of Spring, Fantasia




Type: Ghost

Stats: HP: 120,   Attack: 105,   Defense: 70,   Special Attack: 68,   Special Defense: 83,   Speed: 49

Ability: Intimidate, Solar Power, Hidden Ability: Sap Sipper

Moves Learned Upon Leveling Up:


Start-Tail Whip

7-Mean Look



20-Iron Tail

24-Swords Dance

29-Spikes, Toxic Spikes

35-Poison Tail





Learnable TMs and HMs Calm Mind, Roar, Toxic, Bulk Up, Venoshock, Hidden Power, Sunny Day, Taunt, Ice Beam, Blizzard, Hyper Beam, Light Screen, Protect, Rain Dance, Safeguard, Frustration, Solar Beam, Thunderbolt, Thunder, Earthquake, Return, Shadow Ball, Double Team, Sludge Bomb, Reflect, Sludge Wave, Flamethrower, Sludge Bomb, Fire Blast, Torment, Façade, Rest, Attract, Thief, Low Sweep, Energy Ball, False Swipe, Fling, Quash, Will-O-Wisp, Shadow Claw, Payback, Swords Dance, Psych Up, Dragon Tail,  Poison Jab, Sleep Talk, Substitute, Nature Power, Dark Pulse, Strength

Special Moves: Thagomize: Ghost Type, Power: 90, PP: 15, Accuracy: 100%.  The user builds up antimatter on its thagomizer and then attacks the foe with it.  10% chance of poisoning the foe.

Egg Group: Monster

Pokedex Description Version One: When frightened, a Steghost’s body will disappear leaving only its plates visible to confuse and scare off its foe.

Pokedex Description Version Two: A Steghost’s thagomizer can kill an attacking foe with one mighty swipe.  The victim can also be poisoned by it as well.

Evolution: Evolves from Kentrospirit at level 32.

Basic Background: I’ll be honest; I made Stegosaurus a ghost type because you could easily corrupt his name into Steghost.  But this worked pretty well in my favor thanks to those scary plates of his!  It’s also pretty liberating to not give Stegosaurus a typical type like Grass Type.  With Ghost Type, you can explore different possibilities or ideas that other types couldn’t explore.  Like antimatter!  Since Giratina is antimatter I reasoned that other ghosts could also employ the antimatter so thus, Thagomize was created.  I also realized that there wasn’t a strong Ghost Type move so Thagomize had a base power of 90 and is similar to Thunderbolt and Ice Beam.

Steghost uses aposematic coloration to confuse and frighten its enemies.  The brightly shaded and contrasting plates draw the eye to them and mute the rest of the dull-colored body.  These bright colors can warn predators not to mess with Steghost, especially how it can poison its enemies with its thagomizer.

Steghost was part of my story fairly early on and was one of the first members in the protagonist’s team.  He caught him, in his first form as a Kentrospirit, in the Sprout Tower.  The protagonist found him cowering near the top of the tower and managed to pick up the heavy beast in order to save him.  When the ghosts surrounded them near the entrance of the tower, Kentrospirit found its courage and illuminated its spines and plates creating a frightful-looking monster.  The Kentrospirit, and later Steghost, would become a steady member on the team ever since that experience.

Steghost was designed with a competitive use in mind.  He could be staller with Intimidate and the use of Spikes, Toxic Spikes, Synthesis, Will-o-wisp, Amnesia, and Yawn.  He could be a physical attacker with Grass Sipper and the use of his physical attacks and Swords Dance.  Or he could be a special attacker in Sunny Teams with Solar Power and the use of  Synthesis and special attack moves.


Carpenter, K., Chure, D., Kirkland, J. I., Denver Museum of Natural History, 1998. The Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation: an interdisciplinary study Part 2. Taylor & Francis. p. 137

Carpenter, K., Sanders, F., McWhinney, L. A., and Wood, L., 2005. Evidence for predator-prey relationships: Examples for Allosaurus and Stegosaurus. In Carpenter, Kenneth (ed.). The Carnivorous Dinosaurs. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. p. 325.

Farlow, J.O., Thompson, C.V., Rosner, D.E., 1976. Plates of the dinosaur Stegosaurus: Forced convection heat loss fins? Science. 192: 1123–1125.

Main, R. P., Ricqles, A., Horner, J. R., and Padian, K., 2005.  The evolution and function of thyreophoran dinosaur scutes: implications for plate function in stegosaurs. Paleobiology. 31:291-314.

McWhinney, L. A., Rothschild, B. M., and Carpenter, K., 2001. Posttraumatic Chronic Osteomyelitis in Stegosaurus dermal spikes. In Carpenter, Kenneth(ed). The Armored Dinosaurs. Indiana University Press. pp. 141–156