by Brittney Stoneburg
You may be familiar with Fossil Pokemon, especially the Generation 1 Pokemon Omantye, Kabuto, and Aerodactyl, but those aren’t the only Pokemon who have been inspired by extinct creatures in the real world! Today, to celebrate Pokemon Go’s latest Community Day, we’re going to talk about one particular Pokemon: Mamoswine, who happens to be based on one of my favorite groups of animals!
The final evolution of Swinub, Mamoswine is a pretty impressive looking Pokemon that bears a striking resemblance to real life Ice Age megafauna like mammoths and mastodons.
Mammoths and mastodons are just a few members of a larger order of animals called Proboscidea, which includes modern elephants. Mammoths and mastodons survived up until the end of the Pleistocene epoch around 10,000 years ago, and were characterized by many of the distinguishing features of Mamoswine, such as huge tusks and big, furry bodies.
This Pokemon’s resemblance to proboscideans extends even further - the designers also accounted for the sexual dimorphism present in these animals. For example, according to Bulbapedia, a Mamoswine’s tusks are “...smaller on a female Mamoswine than on a male”, which can also be said for modern Asian elephants, a species where females will often have no tusks at all.
Considering that it is partially an Ice type Pokemon, Mamoswine is probably largely based on the Wooly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius), which survived in freezing temperatures throughout Alaska and Siberia. In fact, some mammoths have been found frozen in the permafrost - just like Mamoswine! There are various Pokedex entries in the game that reveal just how much inspiration the game designers took from real life mammoths:
“flourished worldwide during the ice age but its population declined when the masses of ice began to dwindle.”
“When the temperature rose at the end of the ice age, most Mamoswine disappeared.”
“A frozen one was dug up from soil dating back 10,000 years. It woke up to much amazement.”
Sounds pretty close to a wooly mammoth to me! There are probably multiple factors that contributed to the eventual extinction of the wooly mammoth, but the largest might well have been climate change, just like Mamoswine. As the world warmed, wooly mammoths began to die out when they failed to adapt to the rising temperatures.
As you can see, paleontology has directly inspired some of the world’s most popular video games. Now go forth and evolve your very own Mamoswine - happy Community Day trainers!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brittney is a co-founder of the Cosplay for Science Initiative. She is a paleontologist and the marketing/events specialist at the Western Science Center in Hemet, California.