Morphs [Oak Catalog #]
Notable BiologyAs cephalopods, Omanyte and Omastar display formidable intellects, especially for such ancient creatures. They are adept at problem solving like the more recent Octillery, viewing the world through tactile input. Their brains are recorded as being the highest-developed in the ancient seas, well before the advent of the more sophisticated Psychic-types of more modern eras. These creatures have an innate understanding of hydrodynamics and pressure regulation, traits which they employ to great effect with their other notable development: their pressure-vessel shells. The shells of these creatures are fascinating to behold, and surviving fossils can be analyzed for the elegance in their design. These pseudo-nautiloids’ shells are formed in a logarithmic spiral, expanding ever greater as the creature grows, separated into distinct thick-walled pressure chambers permeated by the mantle of the creature itself. The really clever development is that owing to the exceptional durability of the shells, these chambers can be used as buoyancy chambers to allow Omanyte and Omastar to operate like living submersibles, changing their buoyancy as they see fit. The creatures can pressurize their shells with exceptional force, held in check by a series of bony siphuncles to regulate it. This allows them to squirt jets of water or ink through their siphons with extreme force, even under water, a ‘special attack’ power unmatched by most marine Pokemon to this day. With some training, these intelligent Pokemon have been noted to use even ice-based attacks by controlling chambers of differing pressure to draw heat out of their stored water supply. Omastar deserves special mention here as its unique evolutionary development – the firing of spikes – is the extension of this mechanism. The spikes are held in place by a ring of shell thinner and weaker than the rest, and when its chamber is pressurized enough, this ring breaks and the pressure propels the spike with deadly force through its adversary. This is, of course, a defensive maneuver as it leaves a hole in the shell through which parasites can enter, and requires Omastar to regrow the damaged shell over a period of some weeks, mixing brine in its chambers in order to sterilize the wounded area. The spike in question likely proves fatal to the predator, however.
DietAs with most cephalopods, Omanyte and Omastar are predatory. In the ancient past, when prey was considerably slower, their main sources of food were ancient crustaceans, the ancestors of modern Krabby and Corphish for example, as well as the odd Lileep should they be feeling brave. Their strong beaks, hidden within their ring of tentacles, serve to crack open the shells of smaller prey. Omanyte, as a pelagic species, could often take ancient precursors to Tentacool, as well as harvesting corals and the like. In turn, it was preyed upon by the ancestors of modern Sharpedo and Lapras, considerably larger and fiercer than today. Omastar was a benthic or reef-dwelling ambush predator, content to sit and draw its prey close. These crafty creatures would often decorate their shells with anemones and sea lilies in order to camouflage themselves, striking out with several extendible tentacles to ensnare prey. Faster-moving prey, such as Relicanth or Kabutops, could be targeted with bursts of water from the siphons, stunned and then dragged into its beak, while the less picky individuals would simply scavenge from corals and the kills of others. Omastar was not an apex predator per se, in that it was not the ultimate predator of its day, but it was very rarely preyed upon due to its perilous defensive measures, and often enjoyed the position of top predator in its particular environs. Had the two top reef predators – Omastar and Armaldo – existed during the same era, their fight would have doubtlessly been epic.
HabitatOmanyte fossils have been found wherever the ancient seas were located millions of years ago. The caverns of Mt. Moon have proven particularly prolific with the pernicious pelagic predators, indicating that the tunnels were formed far before the water drained from it. There is considerable speculation of a geological event in the world’s past that upshifted the mountain from the seafloor, bringing its bounty of fossils aboveground. In its day, Omanyte was thus found everywhere. While its thick shell and awkward swimming motion limited its speed, it had the ability to float upon the surface taking in plankton and jellyfish, basking itself in the sun. Such a tactic could cover plenty of distance at the cost of making the little pseudo-nautiloid more vulnerable to hungry predators large enough to crack its shell. Omastar fossils are considerably rarer and tend to be found within the remains of ancient reefs. Undoubtedly it could use its bathysphere shell to travel between the reefs near the surface or to escape into its little rapture-of-the-deep near the seafloor where the surface world would nary hinder it. However, fossil records of the deep are extremely rare and only now beginning to surface, and it is unknown just what kinds of alien organisms would be found down there in the ancient past. Nowadays, both are found near-exclusively in research laboratories and certain wealthy marine parks.
Socializing, Courting, and ChildrearingOmanyte and Omastar come from a time when the rudiments of modern cephalopod socialization were beginning to take shape. They possess some of the same characteristics, such as flashing shades and colors to each other via chromatophores, as well as the tendency for them to brush their tentacles over everything to gather sensory input. They have a very tactile method of communication, and will poke, prod and jet each other to get their point across when visual references such as color-shifting don’t quite convey everything. That said, their interactions are rudimentary compared to the more sophisticated Pokemon of today and they can ‘run out of words’ unless given adequate learning time. Unlike bivalves and gastropods, cephalopod mollusks are generally gender-separated, with the ratio of females to males running roughly one in eight. Mating is a simple affair, where female Omastar will select suitable caves for the laying of eggs, lying in wait for males to present offerings, usually of shellfish. Females select males based on the cleverness involved in obtaining the offering. A swift fish presented stunned if still alive is the most desirable, as these heavy creatures rarely taste fish. When the female chooses a mate, the ceremony is simple; the male will help her clear her cave and deliver a packet of spermatophores on the end of a modified tentacle. Males live perhaps three months after mating, during which time they will have no further contact with the female. The females protect their eggs, laid in long ribbonlike tendrils dangling from the cave roof, until they hatch. She never leaves the cave and may have to self-cannibalize some of her own arms for sustenance should prey foolish enough to walk by be in short supply. The Omanyte hatch as free swimming larvae and immediately join the plankton stream; the mother’s last matronly act is to blow them towards the surface where algae and plankton are abundant. The majority of the horde will not survive, and their critical period is their first year, after which the Omanyte are large enough to prey on most of the small fish which made meals of their brethren.
Extinction and LegacyThe common theory to the Omanyte/Omastar extinction is that the creatures’ shells became too heavy to move or hunt effectively. Obviously, this is grossly oversimplified – what sort of evolutionary tactic is developing a massive and heavy shell for the hell of it? This line of thinking is the same that presents other extinct creatures as slow, stupid and inferior compared to the ‘more evolved’ creatures of today, a fallacy prevalent in popular culture. The shell, as our culprit, was itself developed as a beneficial adaptation to allow the species its range in habitats and its diving ability – not only that, it’s thick enough to contain the pressures necessary for most of their special abilities. First thought to be uselessly heavy, the shell provides the means for their greatest ecological advantages. Like millions of other extinct species over our world’s history, then, the erasure of Omanyte and Omastar was due to extraordinarily bad luck – that is to say, the great Marine Cooling Event of 250m BCE. As global temperatures fell, so did sea levels, shifting currents and tradewinds. The Marine Cooling Event was responsible for some 76% of invertebrate extinction while spurring the development of larger animals to conserve heat and facilitate migration. The Lapras line began to flourish after this event in particular, many of its rivals having been eliminated. The cold blooded creatures of the time, accustomed to warm temperatures, fared poorly as average temperatures fell within the span of a few centuries. More robust ones, such as large ancient fish, could follow the food towards the equator, but less migratory animals were left stranded as their food supplies dried up. Ironically, the Kabuto line, long having been prey for the craftier Omastar, were better able to cope with the changes due to their greater mobility, following the prey equatorially while their former predators often starved. In a way, then, the ecological niche of these creatures – represented and carved by their iconic shells – is what left them unprepared for such a disaster. To say “their heavy shells prevented them from catching food” is a falsehood; “their specialization towards vertical travel and reef dwelling predatory status rendered them vulnerable to catastrophe” is rather more accurate. As with most extinct creatures, they were exterminated not by poor design, but by extraordinary misfortune.
Life in CaptivityAs an exclusively marine species, the Omanyte line is perhaps the rarest of the reanimated fossil pokemon among adventuring trainers. They are primarily found in research institutions and high-budget public aquariums, like the Saffron aquarium, host to ‘Amelie, ’ the first Omastar to give birth on national television (with the help of a male on loan from the Cinnabar Research Institute). Omanyte and Omastar are not easy to keep in captivity, as they require specialized filtration equipment, temperature regulation and different water chemistry than modern creatures. All Omanytes receive antibody baths at least once upon hatching and then biannually afterwards – this is necessary, as their soft mantles are vulnerable to parasites and diseases their ancient immune systems can’t cope with. Shortly after the first batch was cloned, the scientists soon discovered –mostly by using loose-fitting aquarium covers- that they could survive out of water for short periods of time by storing water inside their chambered shells. The carefully-sorted Omanyte specimens –one to an aquarium – would all pile into the corner of one aquarium overnight – usually the one closest to the window. These creatures are annoyingly good at getting out of their aquariums by undoing latches or pushing their covers off and can make treks across the room to raid the feeder tank. It didn’t take more than a week before industrial strength locks were fitted to the tanks to prevent these nefarious behaviors. Anyone who can finish the mountain of legal documents and husbandry evaluations to be granted an Omanyte as a companion is in for five to fifteen years of joy, smiles, and massive headaches as, like all cephalopods, they’re villainously intelligent and enjoy playing games with their owners. “Games, ” however, are an altogether different concept to these ancient tentacle-faced creatures, as they display an altogether different and alien form of intelligence to what most are used to. Often times, they will play dead or attempt to hide within their tanks, pranking their owners with strong jets of seawater or ammonia-smelling ink.
Training and HazardsTraining an Omanyte or Omastar is similar to attempting to train other fossil Pokemon – difficult, expensive, and requiring extensive research and dedication. This is not the Pokemon for some snot-nosed ten year old registering for the Gym Challenge and traipsing everywhere by bicycle; Omanytes require biannual antibody baths, specially formulated saline solutions and easy access to aquariums wherein they can rest and recover. A strong movement insists that using fossil Pokemon for battles is cruel, and works to ban their usage on the competitive scene out of concern for their well-being. The few seen on the battling circuit are, like their fossil brethren, extraordinarily few in number and often used to raise awareness of scientific research; they are tended by a team of paleobiologists and carefully monitored before and after their fights. Rarer still are the Omanyte and Omastar in private battling ownership; less than half a dozen are listed in the Challenge registrar, and all to enthusiasts and scientists. These creatures can be formidable in battle if given proper training, but keep in mind that they come from a time before humans and have trouble adjusting to the modern era. Despite their intelligence, they are strongly weighted towards the ‘nature’ end of the nature-versus-nurture development spectrum and often will refuse to follow orders as nonsensical as what are standard fare in a Trainer battle. “Stay in your cave and blast them” resonates with them, for example, whereas “hop out of your aquarium and engage that flamethrowing lizard” do not. Omanyte and Omastar react similarly to danger – should they be properly intimidated by an opponent or approaching human, their first reaction is to pull back inside their thick shells in the hope that the offender will simply go away. Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to pick them up while retracted, as they can store plenty of water, brine and ammoniated ink within their chambered shells and even small Omanyte can fire them all with damaging force through their siphons. The brine and ink in particular can damage human mucous membranes quite badly and the smell of ammonia can linger for days. Always keep a licensed first aid kit nearby in case these creatures panic. Should they be irritated further, they will come back out of their shells – quite quickly, in fact – in a blur of dozens of tentacles. While their suction cups are smaller and less well developed than, say, Octillery or Cradily, they have considerably more of them and can leave painful welts. As the panicked cephalopod is now doubtlessly dangling from your face and can weigh quite a lot (especially heavier Omanyte; it’s unlikely one could even lift an unwilling Omastar), the resulting Face Fault can injure both the animal and especially your face – their beaks are designed to crack shellfish, mind you. Note that an Omastar that has come back out of its shell and then retreated a second time should be left alone at all costs – it’s not cowed, it's preparing to fire its spikes at you and is building to firing strength in its main chamber. Back away slowly and surely and make yourself small in order to convince the creature that you are not a predator – Omastar can fire its spikes with deadly force, in turn endangering itself to modern infection. Perhaps the most difficult aspect to training these creatures – a trait shared with most fossil Pokemon – is that they lack a concept of ‘holding back’ in battles like modern Pokemon do. They hail from a time before humanity, where the ultimate apex predators were perhaps more savage than today’s. This means that unless trained heavily, they fight for survival, not for sport. This can lead to them unexpectedly savaging a foe they believe to be incompetently predating them. The same extends to other Water-types; expect your Omastar to try to make a meal of anything vaguely similar in size or smaller; not even Kingler or Crawdaunt is safe if caught by surprise, and they may react with panic and perhaps a Spike Cannon to being faced with larger Water types like Gyarados. Naturally, the best way to train these creatures is through food; they have a nearly genetic predilection towards fish (being a sort of unattainable goal for most of these heavy creatures) and respond very well to small fish as treats. Magikarp and Goldeen fry are cheap and readily available through pet stores and work quite well to strengthen the bond between trainer and trained.