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Why Starters Are DISAPPEARING! | The SCIENCE of… Pokemon

Why Starters Are DISAPPEARING! | The SCIENCE of… Pokemon


Dear Nintendo, hi, it’s me, Austin and I’m here to accomplish two very important things today. One, find out where all the starter Pokemon are And two, finally make peace with all the Bulbasaur fans who are still mad that I omitted Bulbasaur from the list of Gen 1 starters when Matt and I Deadlocked over a year ago by making this entire episode about: Bulbasaur! Okay, well that’s technically not true, because this episode is actually about all starter Pokemon, not just Bulbasaur but almost all of them share the exact same mechanics when it comes to what I’m talking about today from Gen one all the way to Gen… Uhhh… Now…. um– Okay, so they did slightly change in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, but only slightly and not in a way that really matters for this episode, so you can sub in any starters from any game and it will still be relevant today. But, today we’re gonna use Bulbasaur cuz I’m a Gen one-r and they’re cute for a frog with a plant growing out of it. *cue dramatic music* Anyway as a Gen one-r who has been playing since the original games were first released in the United States I have been obsessed with finding out why starter Pokemon are so rare. I mean like in my head I know it’s because it’s a game mechanic where they have to make the first Pokemon you get feel special to you and not make it any run-of-the-mill Garbage rat you can find ten minutes after stepping outside your front door, but that part in the Pokedex where it says area unknown haunted me in a world filled with rumors of Mews being able to be caught behind the truck near the SS Anne, and a– What was it the uncle of a friend of yours in school said if you could just get behind Bill’s house you could catch Every rare Pokemon in the game and get infinite eevee’s or something? Anyway. It was a young Internet and none of us quite realized that anybody could write just about anything on game Sage’s with little to no Repercussions and rumors about secret areas where you could find all the starters if you just completed the right steps remain Chiseled into my brain for years after I stopped playing Pokemon regularly. Someday, I’d break into Bill’s secret garden and find tall grass filled with Charmander’s and Squirtles and that area-unknown entry in the Pokedex would finally disappear and I’d get to have the ultimate answer to the rock-paper-scissors dilemma that oak forces upon you within the very first minutes of the game. But, alas, the rumors were just lies. Aside from some very specific exploits and hacks, once you pick your starter and your rival picks theirs, you will never run into any other Pokemon of that species again. That is until the breeding mechanic was introduced in generation 2 and it’s here where the burning question in the back of my mind came rocketing back into my imagination: starter Pokemon are of course breedable if you locate a Ditto But what’s more interesting is with the breeding mechanics Game Freak introduced an entirely new design component into their games that simultaneously raises more questions, but also Itself begins to answer the question that has haunted me for over 20 years: why starter Pokemon so rare? Because they’re going extinct. And how do I know this? Because of sex. I’m talking about biological sex here. Not the act of sexual intercourse even though that presumably has a role to play here, which I am NOT going to get into *saucy music* I said I wasn’t going to get into! Ok, ok! For the sake of time, we’re to skip over Sexless Pokemon and say that in order to breed a Pokemon you either need to have two Pokemon of the same species who are different sexes or a Pokemon from the same egg group whereupon the offspring from the breeding will be the species of the female Pokemon or You need a Ditto who can morph into anything? Okay. Got it? Good. Because of this Pokemon need to have a sex assigned to them by the game So when a Pokemon appears the game just flips a coin to figure out whether it’s male or female, right? Well, no for the majority of Pokemon approximately 56.24% Yes, this would be correct over a long enough timeline. Most breedable Pokemon will have one female for every one male This is what’s known as a sex ratio and for most animals and Pokemon, it is one to one It’s hard to get exact numbers But somewhere in the upper 90s of percents of animals on earth have a sex ratio of one to one meaning for every male There’s one female. We will get into why that is in a bit But what’s important is that this is incredibly common and what’s more interesting, is that starter Pokemon? They do not fall within this 56.24% of Pokemon with a one to one Sex ratio starter Pokemon all of them have a sex ratio of seven to one males to females Meaning that for every one female Pokemon born seven males are born And it turns out that this can have disastrous consequences to the population of a species. Before we get into explaining why having 0.1429 females born for every male can doom a species to extinction? I think we first have to go over why this One-to-one ratio is so freakin common in nature to begin with even among Populations where only a few males actually get to breed with a multitude of females what’s known as polygyny examples include gorillas Elephant seals and high schools and believe it or not we do have an answer and it boils down to a simple combination of mathematics and evolutionary science *Flight of the bumblebee plays* So, let’s take a population of Bulbasaur’s and for the sake of argument say that the sex ratio Were reversed seven females per one male that means that the average male bulbasaur would get to mate seven times more frequently than the average female if each Bulbasaur has one egg That means that the male’s genes get passed down seven times more than a female’s genes would all else being equal but uh-oh one of our Bulbasaur’s got hit by space radiation and Mutated and now it produces more males than females all of a sudden the children of this one Bulbasaur would have a tremendous genetic edge in the population having a bunch of dudes that can spread its genes which means the male dominating gene would spread like wildfire until it got so prevalent that it was no longer an Advantage and it was just the status quo Now all of a sudden a mutation that produces more females than males gets an advantage and tips the scales the other way and then this evolutionary trade-off goes back and forth and back and forth and back and forth getting smaller and smaller each time until finally it settles at Around a one-to-one ratio. This will almost always Happen unless a skewed sex ratio provides a definite Evolutionary advantage like the adaptil inium genus of mites that have boiled down efficient breeding to a hard calculated science I will spare you the details But they have a ratio of five to eight females for every male and the Wikipedia page is well You can look it up for yourself. It is gross and awesome So what does this have to do with Bulbasaur and the other starters? Well quite a bit once you start to dig into the breeding mechanics You see one of the main issues with having a skewed sex ratio is that your species can become incredibly Susceptible to changes in the ecosystem usually for ratio other than one to one to stabilize the means that a species is either relying on some weird behavioral quirk or some specific environmental factor that makes this method of procreation optimal and when you’re that Dependent upon outside elements or precarious conditions to breed sudden changes to your environment can sometimes happen too fast for evolution to have a chance to respond and you just die out because Nobody’s making babies fast enough to replace the corpses that are piling up Just ask the giant pandas and you know who’s great at causing massive changes to the environment Humans, but I’m getting a little ahead of myself. In order to get a solid grasp over how Pokemon breeding would work in the wild I created a simulation in Python that used all the well-documented breeding data of Pokemon to create fake populations for comparison Pokemon are Well, the technical term is fecund every 255 to 257 steps depending upon a generation if you have Pokemon in the Pokemon daycare the game runs a check versus a few different factors and if they’re met it runs a probability check that an egg is laid which can be anywhere from 20 to 88% if an egg is laid you can pick it up in your Pokemon can be immediately ready to lay another egg and 255 to 257 steps Pokemon occurs in real time given that it’s tied to real-world Day/night cycles and each step takes about point 2 seconds. Meaning a fertile Pokemon will lay on average 840 viable eggs per day FECUND This 255 to 257 step period is something we’re going to call a tick and it’s how I calculated all my fertility comparisons pokemon eggs hatch based on how many steps you take too, and for 55% of Pokemon species eggs hatch in 20 ticks. Got it? Good. So basically I coded a math machine with probabilities and Importantly a death rate. I pulled a death rate from another fecund animal species the eastern cottontail Rabbit, which has an average mortality rate of 80 percent over a year I boiled this down to a number of ticks since the average rabbit litter is 5 rabbits and pokemon only lay one egg this becomes an 80% mortality rate per 65 ticks This is in the wild mind you and given the rate at which I murder Pokemon when grinding levels that checks out So okay, I plugged all this into my code, which I mean okay, if you follow me on Twitter I will link the github when this video goes live, but you have to promise Ok, you promise not to mock me for the parts of my code that are not pythonic! Okay, promise me! I’m sorry. Okay! I was in a rush! I wanted to see if a species that had seven males per every one female would be Totally boned given they have litters of one egg at a time. Is this even viable if all things are Perfect? Yes. Yes, it is believe it or not But the first Inklings of weakness appeared really early on in the very very early stages when populations were small There was a slim but nonzero chance that all the females would die and all the eggs They managed to lay before they died would all hatch males which would render a species extinction Guaranteed if there were no dittos nearby So the cracks are already starting to show. So the population is viable, great! And to cover my bases I ran simulations on rattata’s and litleo’s too. Rattata’s have a one-to-one ratio and litleo is the only Pokemon species with a 7 to 1 female to male ratio Okay, can I get those graphs to scale though? That’s better barely see poor bulbasaur down there, but that’s fine Nobody said they needed to be the most numerous species quality over quantity, right? however How would our Bulbasaur population fare if we introduced anything anything at all? That impacted just the fertility rates. Not a new predator that’s killing them more frequently, not less food, Just something that disrupts their ability to breed as efficiently. Think of it as your parent knocking on your door during puberty I built into my model a drop in fertility that occurs a little over a year into the growth of a population to see what Happens here’s the litleo population. All right seems good little hiccup here, but overall everything is pretty good Here’s rattata’s, oh, they don’t even care and now our starter Pokemon population Doing okay… Doing okay… Doing oh, oh no. Oh no. No, no, no, nooooooo They’re extinct! But why? Well, because there’s so much risk Concentrated into one sex and it’s the sex that creates eggs The reason the reverse ratio has almost no problems at all is because it’s like a bunch of egg Fertilizers die off and don’t get to breed. It’s not that big of a deal There’s still plenty of egg makers and one egg fertilizer Can if he is prolific and has a high charisma score fertilize every female in a species in fact Pokemon stacks the deck even further because even if all the males of a species dies through some horrible Bad luck. The species can still breed with a male from the same egg group So the obliteration of a species really requires that all the females die which is what makes this 1 to 7 female to male ratio so cataclysmically Damming if anything shows up that makes this delicate balance of food resources and mates no longer work species with either more females than males or an equal number Can easily take the punches in stride and work to adapt to the changing climate? It may be a struggle, but they will at least have one less thing to worry about when it comes to breeding but Species like Bulbasaur and the other starters? they are Totally screwed if something sudden happens that permanently alters the breeding conditions like I don’t know Decreased grasslands for privacy more spaced out breeding grounds or increased lighting at night Their species will be long dead before a random Mutation has time to show up and give them a chance to adapt to the new environment and who is really really good at Dramatically and permanently altering environments and ways that impact local wildlife? Humans. This isn’t some hippy dippy Observation this is just an objective, Observable fact humans as a body are amazing at changing the world around them to suit their needs Agriculture, diverting rivers and yes even lights at night can cause whole species to go extinct. There is a direct positive correlation between the human population and the number of species that go extinct even something as simple as electronic lighting can Tremendously disrupt the behaviors of nocturnal animals by turning night time into daytime and on Evolutionary timelines these advances are super new. Evolution can take thousands of years to adapt to new environments And animals that rely on millions of years of predictability can be thrown for a loop when one human goes hey, what if I invented the lightbulb and 20 years later BAM! light everywhere and now baby sea turtles are like “Where do I go”? I’m supposed to follow the moon, but the moon is literally everywhere and just like real life there are some species in the Pokemon universe that basically don’t care and are barely impacted and others like Bulbasaur, they’re practically nowhere to be found. The only examples we can find in-game are in captivity Which means even though they don’t say it what Professor Oak and the other professor trees are actually doing is conservation They’re trying to save a dying species from Total Annihilation Which you know seems like maybe handing them out to ten year olds. Maybe is the best idea Maybe it is I don’t know we can release a hell of a lot of Pokemon into the wild while we’re grinding for shiny pokemon With perfect IVs. So what does this mean? It means that well Bulbasaur actually is special, it’s one of the last of a handful of its species. A species of Pokemon that can now only Survive in captivity, even if you take the anime Canon is true that there are breeding farms and preserves for starter Pokemon This does not debunk this idea that starter Pokemon can only thrive under very controlled conditions and are one natural disaster Away from total annihilation all because of humanity so, you know cherish your starter Pokemon they really are one of a kind and you know find a Ditto and breed that thing like crazy because just like the giant Pandas in China. We desperately need these Pokemon to fu- sincerely, Austin eggplant

91 thoughts on “Why Starters Are DISAPPEARING! | The SCIENCE of… Pokemon”

  1. Here’s a theory.
    Wild Starters and Captivity Starters may lay their eggs differently.
    Lets say Bulbasaur have a Queen, lets say a Venusaur, and the males are like her works, just like actual bees. Venusaur Queen is able to lay more lays, like the so call frogs their referees too, then a normal caught Bulbasaur or any of its evol forms. So in the wild there are many wild Bulbasaur but they may live only in one place, like one of those “out of bounds” areas that none of us can reach and, like in Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee, they do sometimes appear for the catching.
    The same is said about Charmander and Squirtle in that game. Shoot I was able to catch wild Charizard’s like they Rattata.
    This can be said for the Gen 1 Red and Blue games but those starters just never leave their homes, EVER. Leaving us to accept aid from another game and trade to finish the Pokédex.

  2. Tbh, the example of the Panda kinda bugged me. Since Pandas are fairly useless to the environment and have such a stupid digestive system that only let's them properly digest useless foods. I don't think keeping those animals alive is worth any work. Life is not worth anything just by being life. After all, life is just something we defined. I could very well call the next stone I see life as a part of nature. Also, since we are all made of stardust essentially, I could also strike an argument from there for "lifeless" things to be the same as us. My point is, actively keeping alive species that would die 100% without our work to keep them alive is a waste of time if the species is useless. I can understand why we would try and keep Bees alive, but Pandas? Why? I love animals, I don't hate Pandas. But disrupting evolution, our scientific rise and nature to keep them alive? Seems crazy to me. Just let them die out.

  3. you know pokemon can evolve and that will make breeding more productive if they evolve… or something, but you forgot some stuff there my guy! 😉

  4. I played this one roblox pokemon game and i got a female starter and i was so proud of myself and had so many delphoxes it was great.

  5. ok ok ok there has to atleast be some starter pokemon because in one game (heartgold/soulsilver) there is one trainer in that game that has a charmeleon hmmmm

  6. Basically: For every seven males there is one female, the females are the ones who make and carry the eggs, less females = less babies, and with females being rare already…at a certain point, there would be no females.

    If it were reversed and there were seven females for one male, then that would be fine because one male can fertalize all of the females and thus have more babies, more females and the males would be fine because there are more and more babies constantly being made with so many females!

    If any altering factor were to jump in front of train tracks that lead the breeding train, then the Bulbasaur's would go extinct faster then they could evolve to adapt.

  7. There is one advantage of having more males, males have to fight for the female meaning the offspring will likely get the best genes

  8. FAKE! come on there is +1 starter per kid who wants to be a pokemon trainer and lives next to a pokemon lab!

  9. Lol and in sword and shild, the champion has a friggin charzard and will obviously gift you with a charmander. You are a troll.

  10. Wait but aren't you forgetting that Pokemon evolutions can breed with first evolutions? Altering the male to female ratio?

  11. That or they are like some snake species, e.g green anaconda and garter snakes, multiple males will mate with a single female.

  12. you forgot to account for factors such as race habets. if the female stays in and the mael goes out, so the death ratio is 7 male for every female. than breading 7 male for every female is balanced. it is as simple as that, problem solved.
    the real answer to your question is that humans wiped out the wild population because of the disruption caused by capturing so many. starters are powerful pokemon. the reason why none of the other trainers have any, is because this happened some time ago. because of the rarity, only the professors are allowed to give them out from the breading reserves. the reason they give them out at all is for research. notice how the only people that have them also have a pokedex?

  13. have you heard of the concept of loops , like for loops and while loops , maybe you should check them out sometime 😂😂

  14. 7:45 here is the link for the adactylidium genus In the mites https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adactylidium
    Really gross But interesting

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