Sauropods are kind of the go-to herbivorous dinosaurs – thanks, Crichton & Spielberg – and I can definitely appreciate that iconography. Instead in this case, instead of him reaching up to a tree’s foliage like a giraffe, the guy gets to grow his own. It doesn’t even look as wild as it sounds; that long, brown neck isn’t too far off looking like a narrow tree-trunk, which also gives him a sort of natural camouflage. Neat!
No, the wild part is that he’s apparently Flying-type, meaning that those fronds on his back aren’t just for the cooling a body of that size would need in a tropical climate – presumably where he gets his shady leaf-helmet. Nah, he just flaps those bad boys and takes off like a bird – no gliding, no insect-like power-flapping, the universe just treats him like it’s perfectly normal for a 220-pound reptile to carry itself through the sky by waving around a couple of leaves.
I’ve always been a low-key fan of this guy, partially because he gets a wide range of HMs for utility, but also just because the idea of a flying brontosaurus is wacky as hell. Sometimes you’ve just gotta jettison all reason and go for something fun.
Oh, and did we not even talk yet about how it produces fruit? The concept of a flowering Pokémon isn’t new, but those at least give the impression that they’re mostly animated plants, or else a parasitic (or symbiotic) plant latched onto another creature. This isn’t that. Here we see a banana-like plant naturally produced by a clear reptile, crossing what would normally be two different kingdoms of life into one complete creature. Amazing.
Less amazing, more middling, is Tropius’ position in the main game; he’s nice and tanky, with pretty even stats aside from being fairly slow. And, as both Grass and obviously-hefty Pokémon tend to be defensive by nature, this means that Tropius is more about outlasting an opponent than tearing through them. He can do this well enough for the main game, but it does get tiresome, which might make him a less useful team member in battle. His coverage with out-of-battle HMs is phenomenal, though – he gets basically all of them that aren’t Water-based – which still makes him worth a look.
The non-dinosaur explanation for Tropius’ wackiness is that Game Freak might be wading back into the cryptid pool again. Aside from the many plesiosaurs around, the one that sticks out is the Mokele-mbembe, more-or-less a black rhinocerous extrapolated to look like a living sauropod. The real cincher here is that it supposedly lives along the Congo River basin – and the main place you find Tropius in their native, semi-tropical Hoenn is around its mightiest river on Route 119. There’s not much else to say about the Mokele, though – admittedly, most of Tropius comes more cleanly from just being a fruity dinosaur.
Speaking of, it’s not that weird for other animals to produce sweet scents for mating purposes – don’t ask how giraffes judge each other on that front. What is odd is that the fruit is supposedly grown as you might expect (as much as you can “expect” anything under this cartoon logic) – with sugars from photosynthesis. And Tropius’ massive wing-leaves make wonderful solar panels for some rich, tasty fruit depending on its habitat.
And that’s definitely Fruit, not the Berries that the game hits so close on. Even the technically-distinct Nanab berry is the wrong color to match Tropius’ production.
But Tropius itself doesn’t consume the same energy. Instead, he’s a flat herbivore, reaching up to pick very specific fruit from the canopies of their habitat. Apparently they like this fruit so darn much that they turned themselves into a living planter, growing more of their favorite snack on the go? And then share it with (or have it harvested by) other Pokémon and humans?
I’m less and less convinced that there isn’t a “main” saurian body within Tropius and that the plant parts aren’t a symbiotic extension, but that’s all conjecture outside of the text that we actually have, which mainly just reads over and over that Tropius is a wild hodgepodge of plant, reptile, and bird. Which, hey, birds are technically dinosaurs under any reasonable taxonomy, so maybe it’s not that odd to have him fly?
It’s pretty cool that we have two grass-type sauropod families that are distinct enough that nobody could get them confused. And I’m a big fan of this one in particular; he’s not particularly famous, or at the top of many lists, but he’s easily one of the most creative mash-ups of his generation, and while his attendance of late is sadly spotty, I’d be upset to see him shelved anywhere below the series’ Reserve lineup.
Any and all appreciation for Tropius is welcome in the comments!