Pokémon Biology: The Process of Fossil Revival

By lyd. Released: 2020/05/20.
« Previous Article Next Article »

Art by Cretacerus (lineart) and tiki (colors).


Most people don't know the arduous process behind reviving fossils and just deliver their fossils to a stranger only to receive a well and alive Pokémon after a handful of days. After all, how can a beautiful Sail Fossil turn into a majestic Amaura in a matter of days? Let's just say the people behind these revivals put in far more work than most people would dare to think. The countless years of research that organizations such as the Pewter Museum of Science, the Devon Corporation, and the Nacrene City Museum put on studying the topic is something that should not be overlooked, and there are plenty of fossils still waiting to be revived. In this article we'll cover step by step how these scientists give life to the likes of Omanyte and Kabuto, so keep reading!

Blitzle Yanma

Extracting DNA

First and foremost, fossil revival needs one key element: DNA. With deoxyribonucleic acid—also known as DNA—of the extinct species, Pokémon can be given life in a laboratory artificially in a method similar to that of cloning. But we'll get to that later; the first step involves extracting DNA from the fossil, which is a lot harder than what it actually looks.

The first attempt of extracting DNA was done on an ancient Blitzle, which would help research on the current two main subspecies of Blitzle: Plains Blitzle and Mountain Blitzle. With a DNA sample from the dry muscle of the ancient Plains Blitzle, scientists were capable of identifying that the two subspecies diverged around 3 to 4 million years ago. This is far easier to do with younger fossils, as those have their genetic structure far more intact than older ones. Scientists then decided to try going a step further and experimented with older Pokémon, such as Yanma and other Bug-types, but they noticed something off: the DNA was too good to be true, literally. DNA quickly degrades, a process that can happen even with influence of water molecules in the cell, but that's not a problem with living Pokémon, as enzymes are more than apt to fix any mistakes. However, after the death of a Pokémon, the enzymes too die, and the DNA decays.

The degradation speed of DNA varies wildly not only from Pokémon to Pokémon, but it also depends on the medium in which they are preserved. For instance, for some Solosis in the depths of the oceans, it takes a whopping 20,000 years for their DNA to reach their half-life (which means the fraction of usable DNA is halved every 20,000 years, roughly), and that happens due to several reasons, among them lower levels of oxygen, higher pressure, and lower temperature; but for bones of ground-dwelling Pokémon like Cubone, 500 years is more than enough for the DNA to be halved. Going on a bit of a tangent here, but bear with me, it's just nice to add how most of the fossils we have today were preserved in certain conditions that make it easier for the preservation to happen. Aerodactyl's fossil, for example, was trapped in amber. And Amaura's DNA is far more preserved than most other Pokémon its age, as it lived in extremely cold climates. But back on topic, even with optimistic estimates, there was no possibility the DNA found on Yanma's fossil was actually its real DNA.

Turns out, in the process of replicating DNA a human skin cell was dropped into the sample and replicated as well, and with better lab conditions nowadays the Yanma DNA and that of several ancient Bug-types isn't actually unreadable. But if so, how were the likes of Tyrunt and Amaura revived? Well, as technology grew overtime, it was possible to rearrange small fragments of DNA with more and more precision as the decades went by. What was once undecipherable, minuscule fragments of DNA decades ago is now translatable, they cracked the code. So one day, a group of scientists over at the Pewter Museum of Science were finally able to fully organize and put together a chunk of Omanyte DNA and then replicate the DNA so it could be read, and voila, a creature 100 million years old had its DNA right there in Pewter's Museum of Science. This process then happened to the likes of Kabuto, Lileep, Anorith, and several others down the line. And with living samples of DNA it's a lot easier to organize the ancient fragments of DNA of such species, making it relatively easy for them to be revived. Regardless, some fossils are still too old or too badly preserved, but scientists are to this day trying to crack the code for another handful of species.


Artificial Creation

Now comes the second phase of fossil revival: creating a Pokémon out of pure DNA. The techniques used here are very advanced and only recently (roughly 23 years ago as of when this article was released) this step was concluded with the very first fossil Pokémon being fully revived being an Omanyte in Kanto.

The main procedure here is to try to recreate a zygote with advanced nanotechnology and from there mimic the conditions of the fossil's egg and stimulate it to develop. Since all Pokémon Eggs are fairly similar across all species, recreating the right conditions isn't all that hard. But still, this step is very likely to fail, but recently scientists all over the world have been gathering a database of DNA samples that are more likely to successfully develop. Not the same feeling of reviving a fossil you find yourself, but it's predicted to help a lot with research on these species and especially how populations interact with one another.


Environmental Consequences

Sadly, these fossils can't be released into the wild quite yet. There's still a lot of research to do, and there's a big probability some of the fossil species could end up not being able to thrive in the wilderness. Perhaps even worse, however, they could compete with another species and end up pushing them into extinction; this outcome is especially likely, as there are no natural predators for most of the fossil Pokémon that have been revived to this point. The Tirtouga species is expected to be released in an enclosed and monitored lake in the Unova Region to see how they interact with the Unovan ecosystem, but that won't happen in the foreseeable future just yet. It may take a long time for trainers to be able to find what are now extinct Pokémon in the wild again.

Dracozolt Arctozolt Dracovish Arctovish

Galarian Fossil Revival

News have come out recently about a lady in Galar who used some of this technology to revive fossils and merge some of them together, picking and choosing body parts of different species (most notably four that have been identified, which are being called Zolt, Vish, Draco, and Arcto, for now). This kind of behavior was very poorly received by the paleontology community, as doing such experiments with Pokémon is considered extremely unethical. These Pokémon (Dracozolt, Arctozolt, Dracovish, Arctovish) have also been shown to have an immense potential to cause disasters in Galar's ecosystems and as such have been captured to prevent any further damage to Galar's Wild Area. They will be protected at all costs, as they're still Pokémon, but the international police has already been notified, and expert Looker is looking into who passed on this kind of technology to that treacherous woman by Route 6 that was reported to be giving away said fossils. These Pokémon also received Pokédex entries claiming they existed back in prehistory, but there's compelling evidence these were faked to mask this awful Pokémon experiment. All in all, not a good look for the paleontology community, but it's definitely a lesson for the future!


P2 Laboratory

Another unique incident that may be relevant is the revival of Genesect. Five of them were revived secretly by Team Plasma, who, mind you, wasn't approved by the Unovan government to do so. They then decided to genetically enhance the creatures in secret. Due to ethical issues, N decided to shut down the project, the Genesect were abandoned, and all the research was bookburned by the scientists in an attempt to keep everything hidden. There have been a couple reports of the Genesect causing trouble to smaller villages and towns but nothing extreme. The five of them seem to live in a group roaming Unova, and sadly the Unovan government has lost track of them. Thankfully they are reported to be sterile as a result of the genetic enhancement, so there's no risk of an overpopulation of these creatures.


So that wraps up this article. I hope you liked the insight on how exactly fossils are revived in the Pokémon world and more importantly how they affect and interact with our Pokémon world. Advances in DNA extraction will make it easier to sample even older pieces of DNA, so expect some new fossils to be revived soon. Until then, see ya!

HTML by Ryota Mitarai.
« Previous Article Next Article »