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Morphs [Oak Catalog #]
Shuckle is a rare and very unusual bug Pokemon. Standing at about 60 centimetres tall at most and weighing about 20 kilograms, it is often described as looking like a kind of strange turtle. In fact, it is a sort of a yellow slime mold that develops a red, very hard, vaselike shell to protect itself. The shell is pockmarked with holes which it can use to stick its "limbs" and "head" out of in different configurations. There is a rare submorph that produces a blue shell instead. These Shuckle are prized by collectors and are in demand by researchers for further study on what other differences are present in these variants.
For the most part, the body of a Shuckle has three types of cells - sensory, carapace and secretory. A Shuckle's main senses are its sight and smell. Early on in development, a small number of cells in the creature's body darken and become light-sensitive, appearing very much like a small pair of eyes. When it comes to smell, any cell in the body can act as an olfactory cell, due to the fact that Shuckle has a staggeringly huge metabolic genome, featuring a huge number of genes that code for different receptors and enzyme pathways, many of which compete for substrates and products. Because of this, if almost any compound touches a Shuckle anywhere, it will likely cause a response of some kind. The secretory cells make up the vast majority of a Shuckle, and are responsible for producing the very wide array of products that Shuckle is famous for (see Hazards and In Human Society below). It is interesting to note that not all cells in a Shuckle produce all the different products it can produce at once, and it is currently estimated that any individual cell expresses less than 1% of the non-core metabolic genes in the Pokemon's genome, with the core genes revolving around amino acid production and conversion and energy storage and consumption. The third type of cells are the carapace cells, which express genes that produce the durable shell the Pokemon is famous for. They are also capable of forming membrane structures when they are not involved in producing the shell and help give Shuckle's body a bit more rigidity.
The shell of a Shuckle is incredibly hard and tough, and consists of layers of protein, chitin and silicates reinforced by metal when the creature can consume it. Tests have shown that not only is it one of the hardest things known, the layered structure makes it exceptionally shock-absorbent. Most things that strike the shell, including energy-based attacks, simply do nothing to it. Tests have shown that in terms of defensive strength, Shuckle is by a wide margin the toughest Pokemon - that is, in terms of reducing the impact of damaging attacks. With that being said, the lack of structure of Shuckle's actual body means that the creature is physically very weak, and it is so fragile that anything that does manage to hurt it will almost certainly kill it or at least stun it for a while. In addition to its physical weakness, the lack of a central nervous system gives Shuckle phenomenally slow reflexes, as the cells in the Pokemon's body communicate entirely through diffusion, which is simply slower than a dedicated neural network.
Shuckle has dozens of regional variations and strains, many coexisting in the same area, which express different sets of metabolic genes. In addition, many more strains have been bred from the naturally occuring varieties, and some have been owned by humans for centuries and even longer. Apart from the differences in metabolism, most Shuckle fall into three types. The first type has a greater number of shell-producing cells in the body, resulting in a sturdier, thicker shell that is guaranteed to protect the Pokemon from attacks. The second has fewer shell-producing cells, meaning that it is more able to consume and metabolise food. The third and rarest type has not yet been fully characterised, but it is understood that these Shuckle react in the opposite way to other Pokemon and their environment, generally speaking - techniques that other Pokemon use to make a Pokemon more vulnerable to attacks only end up making this Shuckle's shell more durable, for example.
Shuckle are generally found near water, usually beaches or marshes, and often hiding under rocks or in mud. They avoid moving and making contact with other Pokemon and people, so as a result they tend to not often be seen unless one deliberately goes looking for them. Typically, Shuckle are most commonly found in the areas around Cianwood City, but they have also been seen in Vermillion City and in Unova's Route 14 near Undella Town. Because of their ease of capture, they have also been introduced several times into different Safari Zones successfully.
Theoretically, a Shuckle could digest just about anything.
In practice, however, most substances are not particularly energy-efficient and may produce poisonous byproducts which Shuckle is generally not immune to. For the most part, a Shuckle will find berries and store them in its shell. They get slowly digested and consumed by the Pokemon over a period of several weeks. Depending on the berry, Shuckle can store a dozen or more, meaning it may not have to search for food again for the rest of the year.
Shuckle are almost harmless in the wild. The only thing they can do to a person or Pokemon is spray mixtures of chemicals around, which could be a deterrent or outright poisonous, depending on the circumstances. While they can learn direct attacks, and do learn some naturally, their complete and utter absence of strength means that they simply will not do anything. They can be sticky though and may sometimes entangle a Pokemon, with the prolonged contact causing harm.
Trained Shuckle can be a different matter. They learn a variety of unusual techniques and moves, which can completely surprise the unsuspecting trainer. While mostly these are various ways of hampering an opponent and making them less able to fight, one technique allows the Shuckle to somehow use the incredible defensive strength of its shell offensively. Chemical and physical manipulations have been shown to not be the cause, indicating that the technique is somehow tied to some kind of latent psychic ability in the Pokemon. While this causes the shell to be useless against physical blows, data shows that a Shuckle under the influence of this trick are capable of inflicting phenomenal damage, exhibiting more physical force than even species like Golem, Machamp or Haxorus.
Occasionally, Shuckle are dangerous due to the actions of other Pokemon that can fly, such as Pidgeotto or Pelipper. Lacking the ability to poke through the holes in the Pokemon's shell, they will instead attempt to lift the Pokemon up and then drop it onto something hard in an attempt to crack the shell. While such incidences are extremely rare, when they do happen, they can be lethal if your head gets in the way.
Courting and Childrearing
Shuckle can reproduce both sexually and asexually, a useful trick for a Pokemon that can only ever move very slowly. Most of the time, a Shuckle will simply seal a part of its body into a portion of its shell, which breaks off and rolls somewhere nearby. These offspring are almost genetically identical to the parent, with the only changes usually arising from mutation, and will grow into Shuckle over several years. This type of breeding is responsible for the distinct strains that appear in locations. Sexual reproduction occurs whenever two Shuckle of different gender meet - it has been shown that these Pokemon do have distinct genders. The two Pokemon touch and the female absorbs a small portion of the male, which will then fuse in her body and then offspring produced as normal. The offspring produced by these matings will not be of the same strain as either of the parents, and will instead be completely new.
Shuckle often live in large colonies of several different strains, and they communicate by way of pheromones. For the most part, they will simply be telling each other, "there is something dangerous around, stay still." Outside of these times, Shuckle will advertise their gender, and also mark the areas that they found food - whether there is any food left when the next Shuckle gets there will be another matter entirely. A Shuckle does not have the awareness to realise that it is helping lead its own kind to food - or, alternatively, tricking them with a lack of food. These communication patterns are completely ingrained in the Pokemon.
Industry and Research
Shuckle have been used by humans for centuries, if not millenia, for assisting in the production of drinks, perfumes and other miscellaneous products. Some industries have kept their own idealised strain descended from a single Shuckle for nearly that long - the Secretpotion medicines made in Cianwood are from a strain kept for seven hundred years. Their huge genome, significantly bigger than all other Bug-types and ease of care makes them a favourite amongst biological research groups, particularly in the search of new natural products and derivatives. In the past twenty or thirty years, at least three novel drugs have been approved for use and nine are currently undergoing general human and Pokemon trials. They are often used as a reservoir for complex natural products and their derivatives that are difficult to synthesize.
Extracting the chemical products produced by a Shuckle is a relatively straightforward matter. First, the holes on one side of the Pokemon are temporarily covered, and directed towards the bottom. A small amount of a fluid, no more than 50 millilitres, is then gently poured into the shell. The fluid varies depends on what is being extracted, but was traditionally water or a plant oil. In the present day, a variety of solvents are used, so long as they are predominantly harmless to the Pokemon. The fluid is then left in the shell for no more than an hour (in the case of water, for no more than half an hour), and is then poured off. The chemicals are then separated and purified, though in the past, the mixture was often used as-is. It should be noted that using extracts produced from a Shuckle without purification can often have unintended consequences as the crude product always consists of several different chemicals in solution.
In Human Society
Apart from their use in the production of certain products, Shuckle are legendary for their slowness and imperviousness. Seen as a dimwitted Pokemon rivalled only by Slowpoke, Shuckle are used similarly. Furthermore, because of incidences where Shuckle are dropped by bird Pokemon, they occasionally get used as either a comedic falling gag
or a completely unexpected way out of a situation, such as whacking a bad guy on the head.
Recently, they have also been showing up as unusual random encounters
in some games. In one popular series they demand healing items from the player and lash out with extreme prejudice when attacked but award a huge benefit if given the items. Another popular series has Shuckle as a rare opponent
, but instead of being slow, has them as extremely fast while being just as durable as the real thing.
edited 6th Sep '11 4:21:05 PM by Smiggins