25 July 2016

Did you know that many Pokémon Go characters are inspired by real animals?

Over the last few years, you may have found yourself among the millions of people chasing Pokémon around town. When it comes to Pokémon, the weirder the better, so it’s no surprise that so many endangered EDGE species have provided inspiration for these beloved characters.

EDGE species (Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered) are most unique species on the planet. With few or no close relatives on the tree of life, EDGE species are usually extremely distinct in the way they look, live and behave – as well as in their genetic make-up. 

Their weird and wonderful physical and behavioural traits make these rare animals a perfect match for the Pokémon world.

Check out our list to see which of your favourite characters resemble EDGE species.

1. Articuno and Kagu (Rhynochetos jubatus)

© Shutterstock

Plush plumage gives the game away 

Pokemon articuno
© Shutterstock


2. Bulbasaur and Bullock’s False Toad (Telmatobufo bullocki)

© Shutterstock

They've got each other's back

Bullocki frog
© Claudios Otoazat


3. Chansey and Olm (Proteus anguinus)

Chansey the pokemon

Pink cave-dwelling amphibians

© Dusan Jelic


4. Charmander and Chinese Giant Salamander (Andrias davidianus)

© Shutterstock

Eye-catching amphibians


5. Dewgong and Dugong (Dugong dugon)

Dewgong pokemon

The so-called 'sea cow' is cute on screen

© Patrick Louisy

6. Drowzee and Asian tapir (Tapirus indicus)

Drowzee on pokemon go

Sleepy Drowzee was inspired by the Asian tapir

tapirus indicus

7. Farfetch’d and Sichuan Jay (Perisoreus internigrans)

farfetch'd pokemon
© Shutterstock

This fearsome feathered friend is inspired by oriental roots

Sichuan Jay
© James Eaton

8. Mankey and Barbary Macaque (Macaca sylvanus)

mankey pokemon
© Shutterstock

This furry primate is a pokemon inspired by a macacque

Barbary Macacque
© Shutterstock

9. Pikachu and Ili Pika (Ochotona iliensis)

Pikachu 3D
© Shutterstock

This American rodent is the cute-spiration behind Pikachu

Ili Pika
© Shutterstock

10. Poliwrath and Purple frog (Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis)

© Shutterstock

This fella takes his style from this attractive amphibian

Purple Frog
© SD Biju

11. Primeape and Red Slender Loris (Loris tardigradus)

Primeape pokemon
© Shutterstock

Primeape is based on a peculiar but precious primate

Slender red loris
© James T Reardon

12. Psyduck and Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus)

Psyduck toy on a rock
© Shutterstock
Platypus in water
© Shutterstock

 Famously one of Australia's most bizarre creatures, the platypus is one of the only mammals in the world that lays eggs!

13. Rattata and Large Rock Rat (Cremnomys elvira)

Rattata illustration from pokemon card
© Shutterstock
Large rock rat
© Brawin Kumar

This adorable rodent is a far cry from the toothy poke-creature!

14. Rhydon and Javan Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus)

Rhydon pokemon charging
© Shutterstock
Javan rhino emerging from bush

 Javan rhinos are the most threatened of the five rhino species

15. Rhyhorn and Indian Rhynoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis)

Rhyhorn illustration from pokemon card
© Shutterstock
Greater one-horned rhino running through a marsh in Nepal
© shutterstock

The more evolved iteration of Pokemon's Rhydon is inspired by the greater one-horned rhino, otherwise known as the Indian rhino or great Indian rhinoceros

 16. Sandshrew and Sunda Pangolin (Manis javanica)

Sandshrew pokemon card illustration
© Shutterstock
Pangolin with tongue out reaching ant
© Tran Quang Phuong

Pangolins are the most illegally trafficked mammal in the world. Help us keep the sandshrews of the real world a part of our future.

Save the pangolins

17. Sandslash and Chinese Pangolin (Manis pentadactyla)

© Shutterstock
Pangolin on a branch
© Jason S C Chin | Taipei Zoo

Spiky Sandslash takes his form from the world's only scaly mammal

18. Seel and Mediterranean Monk Seal (Monachus monachus)

Seel pokemon
© Shutterstock
Mediterranean Monk Seal
© P. Dendrinos

 This dweller of the fictitious Diablo's Ocean is based on a very real and very endangered seal species.

19. Tauros and European Bison (Bison bonasus)

Taros pokemon
© Shutterstock
European Bison
© Shutterstock

Named after the constellation 'Taurus', Tauros takes his inspiration from a very real species of Bison native to Europe. 

20. Vaporeon and Axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum)

Vaporeon Pokemon Go on phone with toy
© Shutterstock

 The gills are a giveaway - mythical Vaporeon owes it's elegant shape to the amphibious Axolotl.

21. Vulpix and California Channel Island Fox (Urocyon littoralis)

© Shutterstock
California channel island fox in nature
© Shutterstock

 The psychic six-tailed fox owes it's good looks to the distinctly-coloured Californian Channnel Island Fox.

22. Zubat and Cuban Greater Funnel-Eared Bat (Natalus primus)

Zubat pokemon
© Shutterstock
Cuban greater funnel-eared bat ears
© Lida Sanchez

 Enormous ears and fearsome fangs are a feature for these two who you'll only find lurking in the dark, at night.

Find out more

Our EDGE Fellows are working around the globe to protect weird and wonderful species everywhere.