“We are not afraid of predators, we’re transfixed by them, prone to weave stories and fables and chatter endlessly about them, because fascination creates preparedness, and preparedness, survival.” – E. O. Wilson
One of the most fundamental relationships in nature is that between predator and prey, otherwise known as predation. In simple terms, predation involves the consumption of one organism (prey) by another (predator). The interactions between predator and prey have fueled an evolutionary arms race, as predation is one of natural selection’s favorite tools for shaping life. The struggle for life has forged the vast biodiversity we see today—from the pyrotechnics of the bombardier beetles, to the assemblage of potent toxins of the Portuguese Man-O-War, to the breakneck dives of the Peregrine Falcon, life continues to push the limits of possibility to fulfill its ultimate biological purpose—to adapt, scatter, and survive.
The mandate of life to propagate itself has led to what many critics of evolutionary theory would consider a dark and grim world, a world governed by the Darwinian aphorism “Survival of the fittest”, a world where this concept is applied in all aspects of life, natural and social. It is with this portrait of the natural world that they postulate a greater purpose, and from that greater purpose they claim it is only reasonable to expect a greater hand guiding these dynamic interactions.
However, to view the dance between predator and prey as an unfortunate side effect of early man’s follies is to ignore the beauty that has arisen from this eternal struggle. For if the day does come when the wolf shall live with the lamb, it will surely herald the demise of life forever. A stagnant ecosystem is a dead ecosystem. The day where packs of wolves no longer chase down lambs will be a sign onto which this grand hand has dealt the final blow to his creation.
Just as the occasional conflagration is needed to clear the overgrown forest, predation and its, at times, heart wrenching cruelty, is necessary for the continuation of life.
As with many aspects of the natural world, this necessity extends onto the fictional universe of Pokémon. As discussed in previous entries, the Pokémon World is no stranger to interspecies interactions. Parasitism is alive and well in Parasect, a Pokémon who upon evolution has its mind and bodily autonomy hijacked by a parasitic mushroom on its back, an obvious illusion to the real-life Corydceps, a genus of fungi most notably featured in the Naughty Dog’s hit game The Last of Us. In Slowbro and Shellder—Mutualism, Commensalism, or Parasitism, I argued that Slowbro benefited from a mutualistic symbiotic relationship with Shellder. Perhaps the most obvious interaction between Pokémon is the trainer-mediated engagement in nonconsequential battle—otherwise known as Pokémon Battles. However, these interactions, for the most part, do not influence the greater ecosystem. Furthermore, all parties involved leave without substantial harm but without significant gain either.
Quite simply, Pokémon battles are ecologically meaningless encounters.
However, when Pokémon engage with each other outside of the mediation of a human-trainer referee, these encounters become far more interesting. The hands of evolution take shape and suddenly trivial encounters hold life and death in the balance, the tools of battle are wielded without restrain as Pokémon fights Pokémon with the intent of either walking away with their life intact or feasting on the corpse of their fallen opponent.
To answer the question posed by the title; yes, Pokémon do eat other Pokémon, though explicit details of these interactions are scarce at best or left in vague ambiguity. For the purposes of this survey, with two notable exceptions, only entries which explicitly cite Poké Predation will be considered a true predator-prey relationship. Indeed, the Pokédex is rife with mentions of Pokémon chasing and consuming an unidentified “prey”, but since the question of whether animals exist in addition to Pokémon in this fictional world is yet unanswered definitively, for the sake of simplicity we will limit our inquiry to those we are sure prey on their fellow Pokémon. But make no mistake, even with this criterion, the Pokédex is abundant yet with tales of fierce predation, many of which have appeared already on numerous creepy Pokédex entries lists. However, this survey of Poké Predators will illuminate new entries and Pokémon precisely skimmed over and deepen our understanding and appreciation for the complexity of this world and our own.
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