in Articles, Reviews by Ali Al-Karam

Hey there, readers, ever interested in learning more about how pokemon are related to the world that we live in? This column will be covering the origins of certain pokemon while comparing and contrasting them with their real-world relatives. I’ll also try to add my own original photography of the species I cover (when available near me in sunny California).


Today I’ll be speaking about everyone’s favorite magma-composed mollusk from the Gold & Silver era, pokemon #219, Magcargo. This pokemon is based off a very common animal  in our world, the snail. To be more specific, Magcargo is most like the land snail; the photographs that I’ve taken of Magcargo’s counterpart are of the species Helix aspersa, the common garden snail. This species should be easy for everyone to recognize, as the garden snail is present in most parts of the world (like most things, it doesn’t thrive in Antarctica, in case anyone who reads this lives there).

Let’s start the comparisons:

According to one of Magcargo’s many Pokedex descriptions, Magcargo’s body is composed entirely of magma, which is molten rocks beneath the earth’s surface. Magma is actually referred to as lava when above the ground, so Magcargo is technically made out of lava, not magma.
 

The common garden snail’s body is not made of lava, but that would

be pretty awesome (that’s why we have pokemon). As a matter of

fact snails have large amounts of water in their bodies and are

actually prone to desiccation (drying out) when in extremely dry

situations. They even produce water-based mucus to tread upon.

 
Another Pokedex entry claims that Magcargo’s shell is made from cooled and hardened magma, the skin of Magcargo. This also explains that the magma shell of a Magcargo is very brittle and can easily crumble by being touched (though touching one might be a bad idea, since the shell also spouts flames from the gaps in it).
 

The land snail’s shell made, not of hardened skin, but of a substance

called calcium carbonate, which is present in crystal form in the

snail’s shell. Conchiolin, a mixture of organic proteins makes up

the very outside of a land snail’s shell and provides its coloration.

A snail’s shell, unlike a Magcargo’s, is actually quite strong; eating

dirt and other calcium sources keep it thick and tough to break by

smaller creatures and insects. The shell may contain minerals from

the snail’s habitat much in the same way that Magcargo’s shell is

made of rock minerals from Magcargo’s skin.

 

 
Again, a description from the Pokedex tells us that the reason our lava-based buddy is made out of magma is due to the fact that Magcargo have been living in volcanic craters for tens of thousands of years. It’s unlikely that turning into magma is a probable adaptation for snails living near volcanos (they would probably dry out first), but I guess that just means that their predominant location of residence is volcanic habitats.
 

As previously stated, land snails could easily dry out if left near

volcanoes; however, surprisingly enough, common garden snails

originate in the Mediterranean region, a region with some well-known

volcanoes like Mt. Vesuvius and Mt. Etna. The Mediterranean is also

home to many humid regions, where the land snail thrives. Nowadays,

the common garden snail has been spread to a majority of the world’s

geographical locations by humans.

 
Like most pokemon, Magcargo is seperated by male and female gender; fifty percent of Magcargo are male and an equal fifty percent of Magcargo are female.
 

The common garden snail is different from Magcargo in that it does

not have seperate sexes. All common garden snails a hermaphrodites;

this means that the snails all have both sets of genitals instead of

having just one set like Magcargo.

 
Magcargo’s listed height is 2 feet and 7 inches; one Magcargo is represented in the anime as being as tall as a person. The weight of a normal-sized Magcargo is listed by the Pokedex as being 121 pounds; this makes sense with all the weight of Magcargo’s rocky shell and thick magma-body.
 

The common garden snail’s average length is around 1 to 1 and a

half inches long; its average weight is a mere 20 grams. One could

relate Magcargo to the Ghana Tiger snail; this species of snail has

been known to grow as large as 15 inches in length and be as heavy

as 2 pounds; this is about half the size of Magcargo in length and

only about 1% of Magcargo’s weight.

 
Here are some photographs of the common garden snail; surely you’ve seen at least a couple of these mollusks in your backyard or neighborhood, especially at night or after it rains. (All photographs copyright (c) 2012 Ali Al-Karam)
 

 
 

 
 

 
I hope you enjoyed learning all of these fun facts about both Magcargo and terrestrial snails! Make sure to visit PE2K often to learn more interesting facts about pokemon and the species they’re related to in our world!
 
– Ali Al-Karam


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