Tech & Science

Biologists created a new way of playing Pokémon Go.

Love it or hate it, Pokémon Go has turned into a global phenomenon.

The new mobile augmented-reality game sends Pokémon trainers on literal treks around their neighborhoods in search of rare and mysterious "pocket monsters" with a multitude of powers and strengths.

The game is popular across nations and generations and is already estimated to be on around 5% of smartphones. Not too shabby for five weeks in the app stores.

With more people outside exploring their neighborhood and public spaces in search of Pokémon, one government agency is getting in on the fun.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) biologists compared the look and powers of Pokémon to real-life animals to create ... (wait for it) ... Wildlife Go.

The social media campaign features 15 digital trading cards pairing Pokémon with vulnerable or endangered creatures found in national wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries.

"One of the things that we've done is look at species of Pokémon that look similar to species that Fish and Wildlife are responsible for, like the endangered Fender's blue butterfly, which looks a lot like the Pokemon character the butterfree," Megan Nagel with the FWS told KVAL-TV.

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 But there are plenty more where that came from. Check out the superpowers of nine real animals in your neck of the woods.

1. Gray wolves communicate by howling, dancing, crouching, whimpering, and barking.

 

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2. The large Pacific green turtle nests in more than 80 countries!

 

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 3. Yellow-faced bees are so vital to Hawaiian flora that a continued decline in their population may lead to a loss of native plants.

 

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5. With wings that can stretch nearly 10 feet, the California condor is thelargest flying bird in North America.

 

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6. Wigglytuffs are cute, but they've got nothing on pygmy rabbits, which weigh one pound and are less than a foot long.

 

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7. The Oregon chub was once endangered, but thanks to conservation efforts, the species status has improved tremendously. Meanwhile, the Magikarp continues to flop aimlessly.

 

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8. While the Mazama pocket gopher is small enough to fit in your pocket, it got its peculiar name from the fur-lined pockets on the side of its mouth.

 

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9. The little brown bat uses echolocation to find prey. It needs to eat half of its body weight in bugs each night to stave off malnourishment.

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And interestingly enough, the delightful campaign brings Pokémon full circle.

Pokémon creator Satoshi Tajiri was inspired to create the game after reminiscing about discovering and collecting bugs as a kid.

"Kids play inside their homes now, and a lot had forgotten about catching insects," Tajiri told Time magazine in 1999. "So had I. When I was making games, something clicked and I decided to make a game with that concept."

Both Pokémon Go and Wildlife Go get kids and the young at heart back outside to play and explore. So next time you're out trekking or training, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the rare and wonderful creatures we share our world with.

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