Everyone’s an Entomologist with “Pokémon Go”

August 2, 2016


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We know you’ve heard about the popular augmented reality game “Pokémon Go,” but do you know how it all began?

As a child, Satoshi Tajiri the creator of Pokémon was initially interested in collecting arthropods (an invertebrate animal from the phylum Arthropoda.) In a 1999 interview with Time Magazine Tajiri said, “As a child, I wanted to be an entomologist. Insects fascinated me. Every new insect was a wonderful mystery. And as I searched for more, I would find more. If I put my hand in a river, I would get a crayfish. Put a stick underwater and make a hole, look for bubbles and there were more creatures.” He collected them as a child, and after dropping out of high school he pursued an education in electronics. He then spent six years developing a game in which the main character collects fictional creatures in pokeballs. With his passion for arthropods and his love for technology he created Pokémon.

Many of Tajiri’s original Pokémon were modeled after his arthropod obsession. Characters like Caterpie, Pinsir, and Scyther all originated from real creatures. Overtime additional Pokémon have been added to the pokedex and the theme of arthropods is consistent even with new characters like Ledyba, Yanma, and Nincada.

At the Division of Plant Industry, we host one of the largest arthropod museum in North America, with over nine million specimens and growing. New species are being discovered daily. Take Spencer K. Monckton for example, according to BuzzFeed, Spencer just identified a new species of bee, which he named Chilicola charizard after the iconic original Pokémon Charzard.

Fingers crossed “Pokémon Go” will lead to the encouragement of more entomologists, much like the young Tajiri and Monckton.

Drop by and make us your original Pokestop. If you or your young aspiring Pokémon trainers would like to schedule a tour to see the origins of Pokémon in our arthropod museum, please contact Charles Whitehill, our office is open Monday-Friday 8am-5pm.


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