Every gen, there are pokemon that are forgettable. There are lackluster pokemon tha don’t appeal very much to many because either they don’t have designs that stick out or have just mediocre stats. Pokemon like Dewgong, Dunsparce, and Lumineon all fall under this category. On today’s Origin Monday, we’ll be covering the forgotten fish duo from Hoenn and their bivalvian pre-evo: Gorebyss, Huntail, and Clamperl.
Now clamperl seems pretty straightforward for a pokemon. It is the “bivalve pokemon”, a pure water type. It looks like a very large clam with a corrugated shell. It has what appears to be a pale blue body and a pink pearl that serves as the pokemon’s head. On first glance, clamperl is based on giant clams (subfamily Tridacninae):
These gargantuan mollusks can grow up to 47 inches wide and weigh up to 440 pounds. They are found mostly in tropical reefs being especially common in Australasia, but can be found in deep sea trenches as well. The clams can also produce pearls that are bigger than a child’s head:
However, because the pearls are often very oblong in shape and lack any sort of luster (due to not being coated in nacre like the pearls of oysters), they are generally regarded as worthless. These clams are filter feeders and the colorful blue tissue that appear like “lips” are actually the clam’s mantle that protrudes outside the shell and assists the animal with feeding. The mantle is only present in live animals and the dead shells look something like this:
If you take a look at clamperl, it doesn’t have what looks like a mantle. Why is this important? Well, I’ll explain later…
Huntail is the “deep sea pokemon” and is a pure water type (although water/ dark fits it pretty well) and resembles a long eel-like fish with huge jaws and menacing fangs. This pokemon has a fishlike lure on the end of its tail and light-emmitting organs running along its sides. It also retains the shell motif from clamperl in its crown and evolves from clamperl when clamperl is traded while holding a deep sea tooth. At first glance, huntail resembles a moray eel (family Muraenidae):
This guess may suffice until one realizes that the only thing the two have in common are the fearsome teeth and long body. In fact, the morays are not deep sea species but rather reef species so the correlation is rather weak. Both hunt ail and gorebyss are based on various species of deep sea fishes. Bulba states that huntail has basis on the gulper eels (family Saccopharyngidae):
or pelican eels (family Eurypharyngidae):
These deep sea ray-finned fishes are not that closely related to true eels and are only named so because of their body shapes. Their most notable feature are their ridiculously humongous jaws that can expand to engulf prey much larger than itself. This adaptation is to guarantee a meal given the rare chance that the fish happens upon prey in the deep sea. The gulper also has a bioluminescent lure on the tip of its tail to attract prey much like the deeper sea anglerfish and huntail. The eel-shaped body, large jaws and usage of a tail lure all fit with huntail but the gulper is missing something. Not only does it not have fearsome teeth nor does it have luminescent organs on it sides. For these, we turn to the viperfish (family Stomiidae):
and the deep sea dragonfish (family Stomiidae):
Both of these genus of bony fish are in the same family and fulfill the requirement for large fangs. Furthermore, as one can clearly see on the viperfish, these fish have rows of luminescent organs running along their flanks (the white spots). One particular species, the black dragonfish (Idiacanthus atlanticus) pictured above, even has a long, eel-like body to go along with its fearsome choppers. Even though it doesn’t use its tail to hunt, I still believe that the black dragonfish is the main origin for huntail.
Gorebyss is the prettier and arguably more feminine counterpart to huntail. It is the “south sea pokemon” and resembles a pink long-bodies fish with a pointed snout and rounded tail fin. It is also a pure water type (although water/ psychic would have been appropriate). It evolves from clamperl when clamperl is traded while holding a deep sea scale and retains the shell motif in its “bras” giving it a slight mermaid feel. At first glance, gorebyss kind of looks like a pink dolphin (Sousa chinensis):
but closer inspection reveals how completely ridiculous that notion is considering how the only thing the two have in common are the long pointed snouts. Gorebyss is clearly a fish and we still yet to have a dolphin pokemon. Well, what kind of fish is it? Knowing that the whole line is based off of deep sea fishes, there are a few options. One is the snipe eel (family Nemichthyidae):
These deep sea bony fish have long thin bodies and long pointed snouts for snapping up small prey. However, it is neither pink nor does it have any visible fins. Furthermore, gorebyss’s dex entry states that the snout is less like a a pair of jaws (in the case of the snipe eel) but rather more like a tube. In fact, gorebyss uses this tube to suck blood from other pokemon to make itself that pretty pink color. Pretty gruesome amiright? However, there aren’t fish that suck the body fluids of other sea creature out like a straw. There is ,however, the hagfish (family Myxinidae):
Hagfish are a family of primitive jawless fishes closely related to the lamprey (think Eelektross). They are generally blind and have long, pink eel-like bodies that are always covered in slime. They reside on the ocean floor and have a feeding habit that is just as gruesome as that of gorebyss. Instead of sucking blood, however, hagfish burrow into their dying prey and eat them inside out. Besides, the color, body shape and tendency towards the gruesome though, the hagfish resembles gorebyss very little. The fish that gorebyss probably resembles the most are the Long-nosed Chimaeras (family Rhinochimaeridae):
Long-nosed chimaeras belong to an order of cartilaginous fishes called chimaeras. These fish are deep sea species that are more closely related to sharks and rays than other fish. They don;t have true scales and possess large eyes for deep sea vision and whip-like tails for sharp turns. They also generally posses large pectoral fins for steering. Looking at the photo from above, one can see the single elongated fin and the long body of the chimaera that relates it to gorebyss. Furthermore, this family of chimaeras have long pointed snouts to help detect electrical signals in the water, it isn’t a tube either. Besides these similarities, there are no more correlations as gorebyss is obviously missing those large pectoral fins. Instead, gorebyss has a pair of smaller pelvic fins. Another family of fish that match the descriptions are the grenadiers (family Macrouridae):
More commonly know as rattails, these deepwater bony fishes posses a long eel-like body as well. Although they lack the sharp snout, they possess the single dorsal ray and the pelvic rays similar to gorebyss. Grenadiers also generally have very small pectoral fins as opposed to the long-nosed chimaeras. Furthermore, a lot of grenadiers come in a pretty pink color as well:
All in all, gorebyss is probably a mixture of a grenadier and a long-nosed chimaera, two fish that are quite non-similar and even more unrelated.
4) Evolutionary Line: The Fish Egg Theory
What’s most interesting in regards to the clamperl line, however, is the evolution. It is extremely mind-boggling to think that a mollusk (an invertebrate at that) can evolve into a fish (a vertebrate), a completely unrelated animal. The general argument is that giant clams and deep sea fishes are both benthic animals so it makes sense since the motif is there. Well I call BS. Even though Game freak has done freaky evos before (such as marill into azumarill), they have never been this drastic. The only other one I can think of is remoraid into octillery, but that’s a story for another time. I, however, have produced a theory that is not completely crazy and actually makes logical sense. Remember when I stated that clamperl doesn’t exhibit any sort of mantle? Well what if the shell wasn’t part of the pokemon but rather was something auxiliary to give the pokemon protection? What if that blue stuff is just protective slime and algae rather than a body? What if clamperl the pokemon is just the round pink “pearl” in the center? What other things from the ocean are round and reddish-pink (besides pearls of course)? Fish eggs of course:
What if clamperl is just a sentient fish egg? I mean, we have exeggcute already, which are essentially sentient eggs/ seeds so why not? Based on my theory, only the small round creature in the middle is clamperl while the shell and other stuff are extra to protect the actual pokemon. How did the pokemon get in the shell then? Well I have an explanation for that as well. A lot of species of fish lay their eggs in mollusk shells. One such group of fish are the shell-dwellers:
These are freshwater cichlids of the genus Lamprologus and Neolamprologus that are found in Lake Tanganyika of Africa. These fish lay their eggs in empty snail shells and guard them until their young hatch. So what if gorebyss and huntail search out empty shellder shells to lay their eggs in? When they lay a single egg, they may also release a protective adhesive slime (much like amphibians and some species of fish) to makes sure the egg stays inside. Over time, algae will gather in the slime giving it the blue-green color. Algae can also gather on the shell as well. When the egg hatches, the clamperl can then manipulate the shell as much as it wants with psychic abilities (it does learn a few psychic attacks) making it seem like the pokemon is a clam when it is just a sentient fish egg. This explains how a clam can evolve into a fish as well as exemplifying one of the many mystical reproductive techniques of the natural world.