10 Ancient animals I want to see as Pokemon

Pokemon Scarlet and Violet released a few weeks ago and the newest cohort of Pocket Monsters have some great additions to the franchise. Aside from the fact we finally got a dolphin Pokemon and I was proven wrong, I particularly like Tatsugiri, Glimmora, and Lokix. Still, with the number of Pokemon finally cracking 1,000, I’m dissatisfied that some of my favourite inspirations from the natural world haven’t been made into Pokemon.

1. Gorgonopsid

Gorgonopsid. Credit: Dmitry Bogdanov
Credit: Dmitry Bogdanov, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Time range: Middle to Upper Permian (265-252mya)
  • Clade: Theraspid
  • Closest living relatives: Modern mammals

I’ve always been more of a fan of the neither fish nor fowl Pokemon designs. Think Nidoking, Breloom, and Shiftry. They aren’t immediately associated with a certain animal. Gorgonopsids are the real-life equivalent; they’re somewhere in between reptiles and mammals. I could see Game Freak incorporating this animal with themes from Chinese pig-dragon artifacts, the Indian makara, or the Tibetan snow lion into a cool dark- or fire-type Pokemon.

2. Chalicothere

Chalicothere. Credit: DiBgd
Credit: DiBgd, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Time range: Middle Eocene to early Pleistocene (48.6-1.8mya)
  • Clade: Perissodactyla
  • Closest living relatives: Horses, tapirs, rhinos

Chalicotheres are like horses that walk like gorillas. They probably used their huge front claws to grab tree branches into their mouths. They look kind of goofy but they’re one of my favourite prehistoric creatures. Still, combined with motifs from the yeti or qilin, the chalicothere could make for a well-designed Pokemon.

3. Dunkleosteus

Dukleosteus fossil. Credit: Zachi Evenor
Credit: Zachi Evenor, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Time range: Devonian (382-358mya)
  • Clade: Placoderms
  • Closest living relatives: Modern fish

Yes, technically we already have Pokemon inspired by dunkleosteus – Dracovish and Arctovish. But until we get the proper full forms of all the Galarian fossil Pokemon, I will keep advocating for a dunkleosteus Pokemon. This shark-like placoderm fish had a mouth made of plate-like teeth and is calculated to have one of the strongest bite forces in the animal kingdom. To make it less like Dracovish and Arctovish, I could see inspiration from the Japanese isonade, a sea monster based on thresher sharks. Covered in plates of spiky armour, dunkleosteus would make a cool water/steel Pokemon.

4. Eurypterid

Eurypterid fossil. Credit: H Zell
Credit: H. Zell, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Time range: Middle Ordivician to Late Permian (467.3 to 251.9mya)
  • Clade: Chelicerata
  • Closest living relatives: Arachnids, horseshoe crabs

Consisting of some of the largest arthropods to ever exist, eurypterids were probably one of the top predators of their time. I have a very specific idea of how I’d want a eurypterid Pokemon. Inspired by heikegani, crabs with samurai faces on their carapaces, I could see the eurypterid being a fighting-type Pokemon with the paddles turned into boxing gloves.

Examples of heikegani. Credit: Tali Landsman
Credit: Tali Landsman

5. Basilosaurus

Basilosaurus. Credit: Carl Buell
Credit: Carl Buell via NYIT
  • Time range: Eocene (41.3-33.9mya)
  • Clade: Cetaceans
  • Closest living relatives: Whales

Despite its name meaning “king lizard”, basilosaurus is one of the earliest whales. I think it has that nondescript monster-like quality that would make for a good Pokemon. I couldn’t think of a particularly good theme to base a Pokemon on. Since the basilosaurus is very serpentine, nagas wouldn’t be a bad idea. Since we have a nigiri Pokemon now, having a maki roll basilosaurus evolution could be fun too.

6. Livyatan

Credit: Ghedoghedo, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Time range: Miocene (9.9-8.9mya)
  • Clade: Cetaceans
  • Closest living relatives: Sperm whales

Known colloquially as the killer sperm whale, this cetacean was contemporaneous with the infamous megalodon and probably fought for the same food source. As a Pokemon, I imagine a livyatan to take inspiration from torpedos and the Yamal icebreaker ship. As a steel type, I think this could be a really cool looking Pokemon.

The Yamal icebreaker. Credit: Pink floyd88 a
The Yamal. Credit: Pink floyd88 a, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

7. Terror Bird

Credit: Lucas Lima via Earth Archives
  • Time range: Paleocene to late Pleistocene (62-0.1mya)
  • Clade: Cariamiformes
  • Closest living relatives: Seriemas

Terror birds were some of the coolest extinct birds – right up there with moas and pelagornis. Terror birds would make for a cool Pokemon as is but maybe Game Freak could add a Baba Yaga hut motif to make it a bit more interesting?

8. Pliosaur

Credit: dmitrchel, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Time range: Late Jurassic (155.7-147mya)
  • Clade: Plesiosauria
  • Closest living relatives: Modern reptiles

We’ve had a plesiosaur Pokemon in Lapras since generation 1; it’s about time for the pleseiosaur’s cousin, the pliosaur! Although Walking with the Dinosaurs’s rendition of Liopleurodon is considered exaggerated now, I remember being awed by the beast while watching the documentary. To subvert the expectation that a pliosaur pokemon would be a water type, it’d be interesting to see it take parts from space ships like Star Wars’s X-Wing.

9. Therizinosaur

Credit: PaleoNeolitic, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Time range: Late Cretaceous (70mya)
  • Clade: Theropods
  • Closest living relatives: Modern birds

Imagine a dinosaur with Freddy Kreuger claws that that’s pretty much therizinosaurs. If the long claws remind you of those of chalicotheres, that’s because they probably served the same purpose in grabbing vegetation. A therizinosaur Pokemon would be a ghost type and really fall into the Freddy Kreuger likeness. I can see it coloured as if it’s dressed as a skeleton a la Halloween or Dia de los Muertos.

10. Glyptodont

Glyptodonts. Credit: Robert Bruce Horsfall
Credit: Robert Bruce Horsfall via Wikimedia Commons
  • Time range: Eocene to late Pleistocene (48-0.01mya)
  • Clade: Cingulata
  • Closest living relatives: Armadillos

Given Japan’s obsession with baseball, it’s a wonder we still haven’t had a Pokemon inspired by the sport. A glyptodont would be the perfect for a baseball Pocket Monster. Bat-like tail? Check. Shell that looks like a batting helmet? Check. Then, make it crouching like a catcher and have it have baseball mitt like hands. All it needs is an armadillo-like pre-evolution that rolls up like a baseball and the the idea makes itself. Game Freak, make it happen.

Categories: Animals, Pokemon

1 Comment

  1. The name “Chalico” sounds like a pokemon already

Copyright © 2023 Planet Dorje

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑