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Can your kids identify a Shiny Pichu but not a Procyon lotor (raccoon)? An open source initiative called the Phylomon Project aims to change that.

“What is this?” you ask? Well, it’s an online initiative aimed at creating a Pokémon card type resource but with real creatures on display in full “character design” wonder. Not only that – but we plan to have the scientific community weigh in to determine the content on such cards (note that the cards above are only a mock-up of what that content might be), as well as folks who love gaming to try and design interesting ways to use the cards. Then to top it all off, members of the teacher community will participate to see whether these cards have educational merit. Best of all, the hope is that this will all occur in a non-commercial-open-access-open-source-because-basically-this-is-good-for-you-your-children-and-your-planet sort of way.

The project got its start when conservationist Andrew Balmford wrote a letter to Science bemoaning the fact that kids knew more about Pokémon characters than real animals.

What do you think, readers? Can conservation-minded folks help make real animals as cool as made-up ones? Will this project work? Give us your thoughts in the comments. [via Kottke]

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