On Pokemon and evolution

Pikachu!

This week I’ve been reading Richard Dawkins’ The Blind Watchmaker and The Devil’s Chaplain, thinking about evolution, and how this topic could be better taught in schools. Or in many cases, just taught at all.

Then today, I had a lesson in Pokemon from my 10 year old nephew…

Now if we ignore the issues around the merchandising of Pokemon combined with the slogan ‘Gotta catch em all’, it’s amazing how many of the concepts required to understand evolution are already developing in the mindset of a young Pokemon fan.

My Pokemon lesson included:

  • 50+ weird and wonderful names of Pokemon species (like listening to a biologist)
  • Groupings of species by functions or appearance (taxonomy)
  • Catching wild Pokemon (wild and domesticated animals)
  • Seasonal Pokemon (whose appearance changes throughout the year, like an arctic fox)
  • And evolving Pokemon (including the discernible visual lineage between one variation and the next)

So in my quick Wikipedia look into the subject, it made sense to read this:

“The concept of…[]…of Pokémon, stems from the hobby of insect collecting, a popular pastime which Pokémon executive director Satoshi Tajiri-Oniwa enjoyed as a child.”

Now we just need to encourage the Pokemon fans to spend a similar amount of time outdoors looking at the countless, fascinating, real ‘Pocket Monsters’ that we share the world with.