Y’know how when you’re awake at night and you can’t sleep, and your mind drifts to weird topics? Well, I was thinking last night why it is that, when Pokémon grow and change, it’s called evolution? Because it’s really not, at least not from a literal standpoint. Now, because I’m not a scientist, nor do I play one on television, and I don’t really expect very many to read my blog, I’ll simplify my terms here: Basically, evolution is the term used for when a species grows and changes to better suit their environment. It’s what a lot of people believe happened to the remaining dinosaurs that didn’t die off, and how life continued on Earth after the event that caused most of them to become extinct.
Now, before anyone goes Phoebe from F*R*I*E*N*D*S on me (and I cannot wait for that show to be uploaded to Netflix, I miss the heck outta it), I’m aware of the fact that there are people that don’t believe in evolution. That’s fine. I’m not here to start a debate over that. I’m just saying that, under that description, what a Pokémon does isn’t really evolution in the most literal of senses. Really, what’s happening is that they’re growing up, getting stronger, and at some point, developing into a different kind of creature. The biggest difference is that Pokémon seem to evolve as individuals, and with a few exceptions, have a set direction, whereas real-life evolution is done as a species and can’t be pre-determined, no matter what Brannon Braga and everyone else who worked on the Star Trek Voyager episode ‘Threshold’ might tell you, and you want more info on that, watch SF Debris’ review of the episode. Another major difference is the fact that species evolve to survive in different environments, whereas Pokémon don’t seem to have that problem, and instead evolve seemingly as a way to keep up with and compete with other Pokémon, either by becoming stronger, gaining new abilities, or changing types (for example, Mudkip evolving to become part Ground-type to gain immunity from electricity).
If that’s the case, though, why DO we call it evolution in Pokémon if that’s not what’s actually happening? Well, that’s when it hit me: Maybe they DON’T mean it in the literal, scientific sense, but the metaphorical one? Evolution has oftentimes been used as a metaphor for people growing stronger, smarter, getting new skills, and a lot of other stuff that aren’t actually covered under the literal explanation for evolution. And really, when you think about it, that’s what’s happening with Pokémon: The grow up, get bigger, stronger, faster, gain new abilities, can learn different attacks, change types, and so on. So, maybe calling it evolution isn’t necessarily wrong, just that the word is being used in a different sense.
So, does this mean that literal evolution doesn’t occur in Pokémon? Honestly, that’s an interesting question. Why DO some Pokémon have just the right types, abilities, and body shapes to thrive in different environments? Take Helioptile for example. This is a Pokémon whose typing gives it a huge disadvantage against other inhabitants of its native environment, which is generally a desert or rocky terrain. However, its abilities take perfect advantage of its environment, allowing it to become evasive in sandstorms, absorb solar energy, and so on. That seems to suggest that it evolved from a species that couldn’t survive in that environment. And then there’s Pokémon that have eerie similarities to others, like how the otherwise extinct Kabutops resembles a lot of other Pokémon that have come into existence later on. Stuff like that tends to suggest that literal evolution does exist in the Pokémon world. So, for those that maybe stay up at night wondering about evolution in Pokémon, like I did? Don’t stress too much over it, and especially don’t keep yourself up trying to figure it out, otherwise you WILL find yourselves nerding out hard over it. lol
Anyway, leave a comment below telling me your own theories on evolution in Pokémon, and maybe some ones you’d like to see Nintendo and Game Freak toss out in the future. Ja né!