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.

You're not going to catch that Drowzee with a regular pokéball. You're gonna need a great ball, pal. Photo by George Clerk/Getty Images.


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.

Image by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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.

Image by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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

Image by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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.

Image by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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

Image by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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

Image by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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.

Image by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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.

Image by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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.

Image by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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.

But also ... you should catch that Squirtle. Photo by KeongDaGreat/Getty Images.

It's one thing to see a little kid skateboarding. It's another to see a stereotype-defying little girl skateboarding. And it's entirely another to see Paige Tobin.

Paige is a 6-year-old skateboarding wonder from Australia. A recent video of her dropping into a 12-foot bowl on her has gone viral, both for the feat itself and for the style with which she does it. Decked out in a pink party dress, a leopard-print helmet, and rainbow socks, she looks nothing like you'd expect a skater dropping into a 12-foot bowl to look. And yet, here she is, blowing people's minds all over the place.

For those who may not fully appreciate the impressiveness of this feat, here's some perspective. My adrenaline junkie brother, who has been skateboarding since childhood and who races down rugged mountain faces on a bike for fun, shared this video and commented, "If I dropped in to a bowl twice as deep as my age it would be my first and last time doing so...this fearless kid has a bright future!"

It's scarier than it looks, and it looks pretty darn scary.

Paige doesn't always dress like a princess when she skates, not that it matters. Her talent and skill with the board are what gets people's attention. (The rainbow socks are kind of her signature, however.)

Her Instagram feed is filled with photos and videos of her skateboarding and surfing, and the body coordination she's gained at such a young age is truly something.

Here she was at three years old:

And here she is at age four:


So, if she dropped into a 6-foot bowl at age three and a 12-foot bowl at age six—is there such a thing as an 18-foot bowl for her to tackle when she's nine?

Paige clearly enjoys skating and has high ambitions in the skating world. "I want to go to the Olympics, and I want to be a pro skater," she told Power of Positivity when she was five. She already seems to be well on her way toward that goal.

How did she get so good? Well, Paige's mom gave her a skateboard when she wasn't even preschool age yet, and she loved it. Her mom got her lessons, and she's spent the past three years skating almost daily. She practices at local skate parks and competes in local competitions.

She also naturally has her fair share of spills, some of which you can see on her Instagram channel. Falling is part of the sport—you can't learn if you don't fall. Conquering the fear of falling is the key, and the thing that's hardest for most people to get over.

Perhaps Paige started too young to let fear override her desire to skate. Perhaps she's been taught to manage her fears, or maybe she's just naturally less afraid than other people. Or maybe there's something magical about the rainbow socks. Whatever it is, it's clear that this girl doesn't let fear get in the way of her doing what she wants to do. An admirable quality in anyone, but particularly striking to see in someone so young.

Way to go, Paige. Your perseverance and courage are inspiring, as is your unique fashion sense. Can't wait to see what you do next.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less