Julius Caesar was stabbed by the Roman Senators, not hugged. Yet, if the ancient senators were actually Bewears, hugging Caesar would have been equally effective as a method of assassination. According to the Pokédex, Bewear has a habit of hugging its trainers…to death. So today, let’s figure out how this might happen.
The human spine, also known as the vertebral column, is a vital part of our skeleton and nervous system. It is made up of 33 different bones called vertebrae, separated from each other with intervertebral discs. The first seven (colored in red) are called cervical vertebrae and are located in your neck. The middle twelve bones in your back (in blue) are called the thoracic vertebrae. The lower back (in yellow) consists of the lumbar vertebrae. The last 9 vertebrae (5 in green / 4 in pink) are fused together and form the sacrum and the coccyx, or your tailbone.
It’s not easy to break a spine; the discs between each vertebrae are made of squishy cartilage that is specifically designed to absorb shock and prevent your back from breaking. The segmented nature of the vertebrae allows the back to bend in several directions, also to avoid breaking by being flexible. Not to mention the walls of muscle that surround it.
For death to occur, the individual vertebrae need to shift dramatically so they damage the nerve that runs through the middle of them. Typically, spinal-injury deaths are related to the phrenic nerve, which connects your brain to your lungs and allows breathing to happen. Several arteries also run through the vertebral column, and if they are pinched or crushed it can result in a stroke.
Of course, how much force needed to break a spine depends on whose spine you are crushing: children have more delicate spines than adults, and so on. However, it also depends on where on the spine you are crushing. The neck (cervical spine), for example, requires a force of 3,000 Newtons (roughly 700 pounds) to fracture. But Bewear doesn’t strangle its victims, it hugs them – so Bewear is attacking the thoracic and lumbar vertebrae. Various studies find the absolute limit for lumbar vertebrae to be about 1600 Newtons (360 pounds) of force.
This is surprisingly reasonable. Boxers and professional martial artists’ punches have been documented over 4,000 Newtons (900 pounds), and kicks can exceed 9,000 Newtons (2,000 pounds). Squeezing is a little different, since it is pure muscle work instead of a forward thrust, and human grip strength at its strongest is about 150 pounds. So you might not be able to crush a spine with your bare hands, but can Bewear crush a spine with its bear hands?
Probably. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but most animals are stronger than humans in terms of muscle exertion. Some chimpanzees have been shown to be eight times stronger than humans. This is mostly because of the way we use our muscles: humans have developed a lot of control. We can finely tune our muscles, precisely control our finger movements, only using certain muscle fibers at one time. This saves us energy in many ways: you don’t have to use your entire bicep to lift up a pencil, like you might when you’re lifting weights. Other animals don’t have this control: It’s all or nothing for them. Physically, the way their muscles activate prevents them from having the fine control that we have. In other words, Bewear is incapable of giving a small hug. It can only give big, spine crushing squeezes.
Bewear’s hugs must deliver a force of 1600 Newtons (360 pounds) in order to break a trainer’s vertebral column.
I realize a huge portion of you don’t live in the United States, but today is the Fourth of July, so let’s talk about the most American pokémon there is, Braviary!
Braviary is very obviously designed to be a bald eagle, the bird of prey found in every state except Hawaii. Bald eagles are large majestic birds, which prey off fish and other small animals, mate for life and build the largest nests in the world. They can fly up to 10,000 feet and 100 miles per hour in a dive.
The pokédex says that Braviary can carry a car. Although there are stories of eagles carrying off small dogs or even children, the truth is the laws of aerodynamics just wouldn’t cut it for a bald eagle’s wings. The maximum is around four or five pounds, before the weight interferes too much with its flight to continue.
So what makes Braviary different? Braviary weighs about 90 pounds (just over 6x the weight of a bald eagle), and cars are typicaly around 4,000. This would give it access to more momentum than a bald eagle. Every object falls at the same rate, independent of mass. For example, a bowling ball and a feather (neglecting air resistance) would hit the ground at the same time if dropped from the same height. What this means for Braviary, is that it can reach the same speeds that smaller bald eagles can in a free fall dive, which is over 100 miles per hour (160 mph).
Because Braviary is so massive, he gets lots of momentum from this. Momentum is a sort of resistance to change in motion. Something with lots of momentum is hard to stop. Bald eagles actually use momentum to their advantage as well. They can only carry four or five pounds for long distances, but if they get their momentum up, they can carry up to 10 pounds for short amounts of time.
So Braviary uses his massive amounts of momentum to pick up a car. It may be near impossible for him to fly with all of that extra weight, but because he’s already moving so fast and with so much momentum, he can carry a car for short distances despite this.
It’s also important to consider differences in how Braviary flies, compared to a bald eagle. His wings, which generate lift based on the Bernoulli Principle (see Latios), are somehow differently shaped, sized, or etc. such that he can get more out of them. After all, an airplane can carry over 100 tons. Perhaps Braviary has significant control over his flight, changing the way he does it based on whether or not he’s carrying cargo. For example, perhaps he extends his wings outward further when carrying cargo, such that he gets more lift that would normally throw him off balance if he was empty handed.
Braviary’s unique wings and high mass (momentum) enable it to lift impossibly heavy loads, such as a car, during flight.
Birds like Braviary seem fearless as they dive at high speeds straight for the ground, but it’s all just instinct. Bald eagles mate for life, so its similarly possibly that Braviary can form friendships as strong and as loyal as the dex describes.