Many Pokémon fans will have heard by now that the new Pokémon type for X and Y is… FAIRY?!? After an initial stab of disappointment, I reached acceptance pretty quickly for a number of reasons. I’ll save my musings for the end of the post (and I promise I’ll try not to be too bitter about the lack of Light/Sound), but for now I thought I’d step away from the ethereal lunar realm of the Færies and towards some real animals which really should be Fairy Pokémon.
Pink Fairy Armadillo
Poke-name: Samurrdill — Scientific name: Chlamyphorus truncatus
Type: Fairy / Ground
The pink fairy armadillo is the smallest (around 10cm/4inches long) and fluffiest (14.7 metric kiloFluffs) of all armadillos. This elusive mammal is found only in the wild only in a small region of Central Argentina, spending its time chowing down on ants, worms and snails. Its bullet shaped body and massive claws adapted for flinging soil behind it are ideal for making a quick getaway underground when threatened.
It’s the only armadillo to have the defensive plates not firmly attached to the rest of the body, and indeed it does kind of look like its wearing old Samurai armour – hence my choice of Poké-name!
It’s very likely that this little guy is one of the many species at risk of extinction due to habitat loss for cattle grazing. However in 2008 it was taken off the official IUCN list of endangered species simply from lack of up-to-date information. The species does woefully badly in captivity, never surviving longer than four years when they might live for ten years in the wild. Here’s hoping we obtain the vital information before this perfect Fairy/Ground species disappears forever.
Fairy Wasp / Fairyfly
Poké-name: Vesprite — Scientific name: Mymaridae species (over 1000 of them)
Type: Fairy / Bug
The words “fairy” and “wasp” might not sound like they go too well together, but there’s far more to this diverse group of insects than the ones that wreck picnics and barbeques.
The world’s smallest insect is a fairy wasp, and it’s about the same size as a single celled amoeba – a fact which gets crazier the more you think about it! Each cell in the body of these tiny creatures has had to be condensed at the cost of complexity, but the result is still a fully functional wasp and a marvel of natural miniaturisation.
After mating, the female fairy wasp will seek out eggs of other insects and lay her own eggs directly inside them using a sharp egg-laying tool called an ovipositor. The fairy wasp larvae develop and hatch much more rapidly than their host so they can devour the larger insect before it even gets a chance to hatch. This type of behaviour is called parasitoidism (like parasitism but even worse for the host!) and is really quite common among wasps.
Adult fairy-wasps often have feather-like structures either on their wings or antennae which allow them to drift like a mote of dust without any effort at all. This explains why many either have short, vestigial or even no wings at all – why fly when you can float!
Poké-name: Fablu — Scientific name: Malurus leucopterus
Type: Fairy / Flying
I find it amusing that both the Latin and common name for this bird focuses on the wings and completely ignores the dazzling cobalt blue feathers covering the rest of his body! As is often seen of sexually dimorphic birds, the males are the ones which sport the majestic plumage you see here and the females don the feathery equivalent of a dumpy brown jumper – and you wouldn’t name a species after the dumpy brown jumper, would you?
These birds have a very interesting breeding strategy called co-operative breeding, where the dominant male in a territory has perhaps three “wives” and also a number of “helpers” which assist in the child-rearing. What the helpers seem to get out of this is increased protection from predators, acceptance from the dominant male so fighting can be avoided and an increased chance that the offspring which are related to them will reach maturity.
You might think the fairywren looks gorgeous, but you can only imagine what he looks like to other fairywrens. The males’ feathers reflect back a lot of ultraviolet light which our eyes simply can’t detect, so much of the effect is lost on us. This isn’t a problem for a lot of Australian birds that are able to see well in the UV range. I guess we’ll never know just how super-special-awesome the white-winged fairywren really is…
Having thought a bit more about the Fairy type, I have to admit it makes a certain amount of sense, and it does retrofit with many existing Pokémon. I still think it’s a naff type, but if they had to have something else super-effective against Dragon Type, why not make it as completely ridiculous as Fairies. When I first saw this picture I thought it was a fan-art parody, but turns out it’s completely legit, and not a little hilarious.
Having said that, Færies in old folklore are nothing like the sickly cute things we tend to associate with fairies today. There’s a small amount of evidence for badassery showing through in Pokémon X and Y and I do quite like Sylveon’s demure smile contrasted with creepy dead eyes and fleshy bows. There’s definitely a lunar motif showing through and it would be very cool if that was expanded upon.
As for light and sound, well… I think it’s unlikely they’ll introduce any more types, and that’s a shame. I mean, they’ve made a new Pokémon which is a dragon crossed with a fruitbat crossed with a loudspeaker, and somehow that’s NOT justification for a sound type. The mind boggles.
PS: Totally called it on the Pistol Shrimp AKA Clauncher!