It's been FAR too long since I last wrote something for this, so I present to you...
Morphs [Oak Catalog #]
Relicanth is a piscine creature that is perhaps best known for its status as a contemporary to now-extinct Pokemon such as Aerodactyl as for the confluence of characteristics it shares between piscine Pokemon and tetrapodal creatures. Mature Relicanth average roughly a meter from its lower to upper fins and roughly 2 to 2 and a half meters in length and just under 25 kilograms in weight, with female specimens trending larger than male specimens. Some of the most immediately apparent features of Relicanth's appearance are it's "squinting" eyes and its distinctive 8-finned appearance, which includes a three-lobed caudal fin, a small spike-like forward dorsal fin and a larger rear dorsal fin mirrored by a similarly shaped anal fin, as well as a pair of pectoral and pelvic fins along its lower body.
Other notable features of Relicanth's appearance include a prominent maw-like jaw structure with a mild overbite, prominent "cheekbone" projections that are larger on male individuals and a pointed vaguely beak-shaped lower jaw. Relicanth are covered in a layer of extremely durable scales, which is predominated by dark brown and tan regions. The former encompasses most of Relicanth's body and its lower fins, while the latter encompasses regions composing its head, jaws, and a region including its foremost dorsal fin along with blotch-like regions on its body and on the tip of its rear dorsal fin and center of its caudal fin. A pair of small red dot-like markings are also present on Relicanth's body, punctuating an otherwise relatively monochrome appearance. In rare cases, individuals carrying a mutant phenotype in which normally brown regions of the body are teal in color and tan regions trend lighter and more grayish have been documented, and are known to be particularly sought after in some training circles.
Relicanth is famous in zoological circles as an example of a "living fossil," with individuals evidencing little change from those that are believed to have dwelt in the planet's oceans roughly 100 million years ago. Beyond this, Relicanth is believed to be a likely candidate for a transitional organism between piscine lifeforms and tetrapodal vertebrates. Beyond its fin configuration, Relicanth possess a number of other biological differences from most other piscine creatures, including the presence of a heart with the structure of a straight tube, extremely durable stone-like armored scales that allow these creatures to better weather assaults than most other aquatic Pokemon, the presence of a large gel-filled cavity in its snout referred to as a "rostral organ" that appears to possibly have electrosensitive properties, and the possession of an intracranial joint that enables these creatures to open their mouths extremely widely. Relicanth further possess inner ear structures that have been noted for their remarkable similarity to those of many tetrapodal organisms, being classified as a basilar papilla.
Relicanth possess a unique means of locomotion, which typically relies on exploiting current upwellings or downwellings and drifting. In open water, Relicanth use their fins to stabilize their movement. On the ocean floor, a Relicanth will not use its fins to aid movement, though is capable of making abrupt lunges using its caudal fin, a behavior that carries over to these creatures' movements outside of water. Due to their number of fins, Relicanth are known to be remarkably manuverable, and have been documented doing headstands and swimming belly up. It is presently thought, though not verified, that the rostal organ may play a role in allowing Relicanth to distinguish obstacles in its surroundings.
Other notable biological features of Relicanth include its possession of both true lungs and true gills, which enables it to survive prolonged periods outside of water if kept sufficiently hydrated. Like most other Pokemon in their environment, Relicanth also possess a bladder capable of storing pressurized water along with more conventional swim bladders. Another noteworthy quirk is these creatures' lifespans, as their reference as the "Longevity Pokemon" would allude. Relicanth appear to be capable of living longer than the average life expectancy for humans in most countries in appropriate conditions, one particularly noteworthy example includes an individual that has been on live display in an aquarium in a region near Unova for almost 80 consecutive years.
There are three presently known submorphs of Relicanth, which possess physiological difference that are so pronounced that upon their discovery, it was proposed that these different submorphs be recognized as different subspecies. One of the most common submorphs is known for having particularly durable scales protecting its head and surrounding regions of its body, which enables such individuals to exert amounts of force while ramming opponents that would cause injuries among most other creatures. Another common submorph consists of individuals whose scales trend less armored than those of their counterparts from other submorphs, but also possess more developed muscles associated with its general movement, enabling such individuals to move at markedly faster paces than other Relicanth in aquatic environments. The third, and rarest submorph, is the most heavily armored of the three, and appears capable of better withstanding massive singular assaults than its other counterparts, including attacks that would be mortal to most other creatures.
Relicanth generally dwell within deep-sea settings, although populations of these creatures resting in water as shallow as 100 meters and migrating to deeper regions of water have been documented. Relicanth appear to gravitate towards cave-like regions as dwellings, due to the comparative seclusion from potential predators and are noted to be relatively comfortable with living in crowded quarters. Creatures from this line are noted to be more active under conditions where water temperature is cooler, which reduces the metabolic costs of swimming against ocean currents, leading to some documented populations exhibiting crepuscular or nocturnal behavior. With the exception of shallow-water Relicanth populations, individuals generally do not surface frequently, which puts most populations of these creatures beyond the means of the typical trainer to attempt to catch. Particularly well documented and easily accessible populations of Relicanth can be found in waters surrounding Hoenn as well as in the waters offshore of Kanto Route 12, Sinnoh Route 226, and Unova Route 4.
Relicanth have been documented as being capable of living off of an omnivorous mode of sustenance in captivity, though in their native environment, these creatures trend heavily piscivorous and molluscvorous. Typical prey for Relicanth consist of creatures that are known to live in the Benthic regions of oceans, with particularly common prey including Clamperl and weaker Finneon, Chinchou, and Shellder line members. Shallow water Relicanth are also show evidence of occasionally feeding upon creatures that dwell in shallower waters, though their diets appear to still be heavily composed of creatures that their deep-water counterparts feed on, making it unclear as to whether or not Relicanth have a clear preference for deep-water prey, or if they simply lack the means to effectively feed upon most shallow-water organisms.
Despite their largely unassuming appearances and generally slow movements, like most other Pokemon, Relicanth are capable of posing a number of dangers to imprudent or overly antagonistic trainers that encounter them. Relicanth are known to be capable of utilizing tackling-based attacks whose effects range from mostly innocuous bruising to bone-crushing. One of the most hazardous of the techniques of this mold, though almost never seen performed by Relicanth outside of captivity, is a technique in which a Relicanth will plow into an opponent headfirst with a great degree of momentum, which is capable in and of itself of inflicting wounds requiring immediate hospitalization. In addition to more conventional physical assaults, Relicanth have also been known to utilize attacks using pressurized bursts of water. Once again, effects range by technique and individual strength, though Relicanth have been seen utilizing these techniques in manners that occasionally deviate from the behaviors of similar attacks by the likes of most other water Pokemon, one of the most spectacular is its use of pressurized water to lob large rocks at assailants underwater (it has been documented that Relicanth are also capable of performing this technique, typically referred to as "AncientPower" by directly lobbing rocks, albeit with less potency). Although Relicanth's mobility is dramatically hampered on land, they are by no means helpless, and can perform most of the above techniques without incident, or with the aid of a simple lunge.
Other, less spectacular, though still potentially hazardous techniques that Relicanth are capable of using include the technique known as "Yawn," which can cause opposing creatures to become rapidly drowsy, a potential death sentence for creatures unable to respire underwater. Relicanth also have been known to throw up plumes of mud from their surroundings, which noticeably impairs the effectiveness of electric attacks on these creatures. Relicanth also commonly adopt a stiffening defense mechanism in order to better weather attacks, which has been known to be effective enough to make the results of a human attempting to physically attack a Relicanth roughly on par with the effects of attempting to attack a large stone, and is capable of inflicting injury. It should also be noted that individuals from the heavily armored submorph have been documented utilizing techniques that their other counterparts are incapable of without special training, including one that enables individuals to attack assailants even while asleep, and another that causes phenomenon akin to localized volcanic eruptions.
Attempting to catch a Relicanth in wild settings is very much an arduous task. Beyond the potential risk of having to face attacks from an entire school of Relicanth, it should be kept in mind that Relicanth are more than capable of moving around at depths where the surrounding water pressure will cause Dive bubbles to implode, making encounters with Relicanth to begin with in all but comparatively shallow water effectively impossible.
Relicanth do not appear to have distinct courtship rituals and exhibit mating behavior that is highly opportunistic in nature. Relicanth are one of a small number of piscine Pokemon who are documented to have eggs that are capable of surviving ovoviviparous birth, a trait more commonly associated with mammalian Pokemon. In wild settings, eggs typically gestate within the mother for roughly a year, with any eggs that are laid externally effectively doomed to death in all but shallow-water settings. Relicanth eggs are large, roughly the size of a grapefruit, with only a thin membrane providing protection. When Relicanth ultimately hatch, they emerge superficially similar to their adult counterparts, with proportionally larger and less "squinted" eyes, a large yolk sac attached below the pelvic fins, and a more downward-sloping body shape. Relicanth are not cared for by their mothers after they hatch and individuals do not appear to court or mate with creatures outside of their immediate species in wild settings.
Relicanth do not possess particularly intimate social structures, typically grouping in schools that fluctuate depending on the availability of food and shelter. Despite this, schools of Relicanth have been observed exhibiting behaviors demanding significant levels of inter-individual coordination, such as assuming group defensive behaviors when under assault by foes. Schools of Relicanth typically average between 40 and 60 individuals, with school sizes having trended lower over the course of the last few decades, suggesting increased stress by human activities. There appears to be a remarkable lack of genetic variance among Relicanth populations, with individuals from various settings displaying almost identical genetic makeups. Despite this, Relicanth appear to be more than capable of picking out individual members of their species, even in environments with low light and in the absence of highly developed senses of hearing, which has lead some researchers to propose that these creatures may be capable of discerning each other via other senses. Recent research has suggested that Relicanth may be capable of discerning electrical currents, and display some properties similar to creatures with electrogenic capabilities, a phenomenon of curiosity as Relicanth are not presently known to be capable of utilizing any techniques incorporating the use of electric currents in battle.
In Human Society
Historically, human and Relicanth populations have had little contact, to the point where Relicanth were widely presumed extinct until roughly 80 years ago in most scientific circles, due to both the nature of Relicanth's habitat as well as Relicanth's general lack of value to commercial fisheries. Due to a combination of its tough hide and its flesh containing high concentrations of oils, urea, and wax esters, Relicanth is effectively inedible to human beings, as well as to most other creatures in its surrounding environment. In regions where Relicanth are more commonly encountered by local fisheries, it was not uncommon for fishermen to go out of their way to avoid catching these creatures, a practice that has only recently changed due to a modest growth in demand for Relicanth for training purposes.
Unsurprisingly, Relicanth have a negligible presence in human tradition and media outside of scientific journals, and in the few media depictions that they receive, are almost never used as anything beyond being used for an exotic backdrop and are typically overshadowed by other ancient creatures in media set in prehistoric settings. Curiously, it appears that ancient civilizations may have at least possessed a passing knowledge of these creatures, as evidenced by the discovery of a small number of sealed chambers in Hoenn that were found to respond when passed by in an extremely specific order with a party including a Wailord and a Relicanth. This general lack of publicly common knowledge and general apathy towards Relicanth is at once a blessing and a curse, as poaching of Relicanth is seldom documented, but at the same time, attempts to secure support for conservation efforts often flounder. A small but interesting phenomena of note is Relicanth elevation as a symbol by some social commentators in recent years, critiquing a general bias by the public towards training lines of Pokemon whose members are either disarming in appearance or particularly powerful at the expense of effectively neglecting other lines of Pokemon that do not stand out in either field.
Written by TracerBullet.
Thoughts / commentary / critiques are highly appreciated. Also, I've decided to add something completely different
to my queue of topics to write on, namely Duskull and its evolutions.
edited 13th Apr '12 9:56:02 AM by TracerBullet