Paras and Parasect (unapproved)

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Paras and Parasect (unapproved)

Post: # 15170Post ThatAlex »

[ Not yet approved by Lore Team ]
(artist unknown sadly)

Paras and Parasect are often seen as scary Pokémon. Mainstream media has popularized the concept of "Zombies" and often people draw parallels to this Species of Pokémon. Furthermore they can be seen as pests, damaging forests or crops.
However, as anyone who has owned or studied these Pokémon can tell you, these myths are nothing more than that, myths. However, some of them are still grounded in reality, and I hope to explain and clear up some misconceptions around this truly beautiful species of Pokémon.

(by @TheShunbun)
Description and Behavior (Pre-Evolved)
Paras is an arthropod-like Pokémon, resembling species such as Krabby and Skorupi. Though they may look semi-aquatic at first glance, closer inspection reveals high specialization towards terrestrial life, especially burrowing, and they are in fact not able to live in water at all during any stage of their life. One of the most notable traits are the two mushrooms growing from its back, called Tochukaso. These parasitic in nature, and have evolved alongside the Paras line, to a point where they have become a permanent part of the Paras' lifecycle.
They can easily be removed, but will grow back rather quickly, since only the fruiting body of the mushroom can be easily accessed. This process does not harm the host, save for the extra energy the fungus takes to grow back its fruiting bodies.
Paras live in large groups, often called a troop, and show very social behavior with each other. These groups can range from 5 to 50 individuals, and the mushrooms on their back play a big role in regulating this size as well as other behaviors, but this will be explained further in the "Tochukaso" section.
The main food source of Paras is the sap of trees, which they mostly access through the roots they find while digging. This often gives them the reputation of being pests, and while true for manmade farms, in the wild they actually help regulate the growth of trees, as they usually only feed from larger, established trees, thus stunting their growth and allowing for younger trees to properly take root and spread. Without this, forests may become overly dense and choke out young trees.

Both Paras and Parasect prefer to live in areas with dense foliage and soft soils, be that temperate forests, jungles or swamps. However this species of Pokémon is highly adaptable, able to quickly adjust to changes in the environment and availability of food. This is partially where their reputation as pests comes from, as they can turn to human crop fields during harsh times. Generally however they stay away from densely populated areas.
Paras do however have trouble dealing with heat, so while it is not unheard of to find paras in desert or dry mesas, they tend to never breach the surface, instead digging elaborate tunnel systems to move around while staying in the shade.

(by @TheShunbun)
Description and Behavior (Evolved)
Parasect live very different from their pre-evolved counterpart. They are largely solitary, but sometimes form groups of 2-5 individuals at most. Their diet is the same, although they now require more food than before, since their growth is no longer regulated.
The biggest difference after evolution is the size of their mushroom parasite. It has now grown to massive size, engulfing most of the original body. At this point it is much harder to remove the Tochukaso from the Host, although if done so it will still grow back quickly. This also means the the Tochukaso has a much stronger influence on the actions that Parasect may take.
The eyes of Parasect have notably gone milky white. While the pupils may no longer be visible, they actually still exist bellow the white layer. Paras have little reason for good eyesight, relying mostly on smell and chemical receptors to find their way around. Parasect however, living more solitary, needs to be able to defend from predators far better, and as such has developed a layer around its eyes that is able to adjust to any level of light by filtering available light. This also makes their eyes glow when bright light shines on them, though this effect fades quickly as their eyes adjust. It is also theorized that the look of their eyes drives away predators, making them look more like carrion, especially with the large mushroom on their back, which would make them look unappetizing to most active hunting predators.

(artist hard to find, one of these two) Tochukaso
The mushroom on Paras and Parasect is a large part of the mystery surrounding them. Here I will explain some of the functions this species of fungus is known to have.

In Paras the mushroom is still in an early stage of life, and as such its roles are highly defined. They mainly maintain their own growth, drawing away nutrients from the hosts body according to how much food is available, and also the size of their troop. Should the troop be on the larger size, the mushrooms of all the Paras will draw away more nutrients than in smaller groups, making them grow up more slowly as well as storing more energy. This ensures that no single individual overpowers or outgrows the others. Should a troop grow abnormally large, the Tochukaso will also release spores that signal the paras to split up. Since the mushrooms periodically release spores to signify the identity of a certain troop, they can easily split a group of Paras into two with this.

With Paras being rather weak prey animals, the Tochukaso often exerts its influence to ensure safety for itself, generally by forcing the Paras into running or hiding when it senses a stress response in its host. Normally this simply amplifies the natural response of Paras, but this connection between the Tochukaso and its host is very notable for the strong effect it seems to have. However outside of reflexive behavior, such as making the Paras prioritize searching food when hungry, the fungus has no effect on the personality of the Pokémon.
Lastly its also worth mentioning that these mushrooms are deeply connected to the gut of Paras, which is why they grow in such specific places on its back. They are directly rooted into the intestines and kidneys of Paras, ensuring that they can draw out nutrients quickly. The exact way the mushroom itself stores and uses the nutrients it gains us not fully known, but through experimentation it has been shown that the Tochukaso can, if processed correctly, help with many ailments in humans or simply act as a very healthy supplement, though it is not able to fully cure any illness, simply to help relieve some symptoms.

In Parasect, the mushroom changes drastically to become much more intertwined with the host. It has grown much bigger, after absorbing and storing nutrients for a long time, and it now able to exert a lot more influence over its host.
This change may seem drastic, but the fungus is still restricted to inducing, or strengthening reflexive responses to outside stimuli, and rarely interferes with the normal behavior of Parasect. Notably, after evolution, the Tochukaso despite the bigger size, now draws less nutrients way from the host body. It is theorized that this change in activity from the fungus actually happens right before evolution, and is what allow Parasect to grow stronger than Paras. Still, the fungus constantly draws away nutrition, and often the large size balances out the slower rate of consumption, resulting in no real change for the Parasect in terms of required food intake.

Lastly i want to mention that the Tochukaso specifically as a unique species. Much like other parasites, this fungus is entirely reliant on its host to help it reproduce and spread. However unlike many other parasitic fungi or plants, which only affect a small percentage of the total host population, every single individual of the Paras species is born infected. Considering the Tochukaso is a rather mild parasite in comparison to the many more extreme fungal parasites, this makes sense. Despite still being somewhat harmful, most Paras will never be truly endangered by the effects of the mushroom, and thus no countermeasures have evolved, leading to today where these two species are irreversably bound to each other.

Common uses by trainers
Due to Paras and Parasect being rather weak Pokémon on their own, mostly having evolved to survive harsh conditions, there is not much use for them to trainers looking for strong team members. While they fill an important niche in nature, the rules of organized battles don't allow them to fully use their abilities.
Farmers can sometimes train them to eat harmful plants and weeds, but their social behavior and large food intake means that this is only viable on very large plots of land, and other Pokémon are more suited to this even then.

However, i do still recommend people to try and spend time with Paras, be they the local wild troop, or perhaps an individual that needs a home. In nature, abandoned Paras have only a very low chance of survival, especially the young ones. They are very easy to take care off for humans, and due to their social behavior will quickly integrate into the family, becoming especially playful when kids are present. So if you are looking for a Pokémon to adopt, why not a Paras!
Nihilego is a parasite
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