Yoshis are a race of bipedal sentient dinosaurs from the Super Mario video game franchise. Originating from Yoshi's Island in Dinosaur Land, these friendly creatures have appeared in many different Mario titles, helping Mario and friends in their adventures. The most well-known of the Yoshis is simply referred to as "Yoshi" and has been a sidekick of Mario's in several games.
Yoshis are anthropogenic in appearance, having stout bodies with large heads. They have short arms and legs with four-digit hands and three-digit feet, though their feet are rarely seen as Yoshis always seem to wear boots. Yoshis also have a set of three red spines on the backs of their heads and their backs are adorned with a smooth round shell. This shell makes a good saddle for those who ride Yoshis. Yoshis also come in a wide variety of skin colours, though their cheeks and bellies are always white.
Yoshis are especially known for their long tongues that cling to most enemies, allowing a Yoshi to swallow it whole, although they do have teeth. They can either swallow whatever they eat, or encase it in an egg. The eggs can then be used as projectile weapons to defeat other enemies and bosses, while other eggs hatch into useful items like 1-Up Mushrooms. Yoshis also presumably have strong and efficient digestive systems, which digest live enemies very quickly, although they do have difficulty swallowing certain objects, such as Koopa shells. In fact, depending on the colour of the consumed Koopa shell, a Yoshi can temporarily gain a new ability such as spitting fireballs or growing wings for flight.
Yoshis have large snouts which they can use to sniff out fruit or other secrets that can be buried underground, although this feature is shown only in Yoshi's Story.
Most games show that Yoshis can swim, although how well they swim varies. In Super Mario World, they can swim and dive, although in Yoshi's Island DS, they cannot dive without a Submarine powerup. Yoshi also cannot dive in Super Mario Galaxy 2, although he can swim. In Super Mario Sunshine, Yoshis that live on or around Isle Delfino turn green and disappear if they touch water.
Yoshis were also one of the first creatures shown performing proper Ground Pound attacks - a move in which the performer jumps into the air, flips and then slams into the ground. Yoshis first performed the move in Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island. Yoshi uses "Ground Pound" in the Super Smash Bros. series as a special attack. Bowser was shown doing the equivalent of a Ground Pound in Super Mario Bros. 3 (before the debut of Yoshis), and in games since then. Other characters have also been shown Ground Pounding, including Mario himself in titles such as Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and various entries in the Mario Party franchise.
Despite being one of the most central species in the Mario series, very little solid information has been provided on the unique reproductive biology of the Yoshis.
The in-game Japanese text of Yoshi's Trophy in Super Smash Bros. Melee states that Yoshis reproduce asexually, meaning that they reproduce without a mate and are neither male nor female. This is supported by the Chef minigame in Game & Watch Galleries 2 and 4; after being fed long enough, the Yoshi produces an egg that eventually hatches into another Yoshi. The baby then takes its parent's place and proceeds to eat enough food to turn into an adult, eventually producing a fertile egg of its own, which then continues the cycle.
Other sources have also contradicted the asexual depiction of Yoshis. At least one of the Yoshis in Paper Mario refers to his "son", and in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, the Yoshi who sometimes appears on-board the Excess Express expresses his hatred of business trips due to them keeping him away from his "lovely wife". The original Mario Party also features a pair of Yoshis which appear to be one male and one female, although the exact nature of their relationship was not revealed. Additionally, while Japanese language rarely involves gender-specific pronouns, the character Yoshi is consistently referred to with masculine pronouns in translation, yet laying eggs is one of his trademarks. This apparent contradiction was addressed in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, where Solid Snake assumes that Yoshi is a female because of his egg-laying abilities, only to be corrected by Otacon (both of whom use "it" rather than "he" or "she" when referencing Yoshi). It is addressed again in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, where Viridi remarks that there is nothing natural about a male who lays eggs while Palutena asserts that all living beings contain both male and female elements.
Though omnivorous, Yoshis eat mostly fruit, and in Yoshi's Story, they become happy when eating fruit of their own skin colour. Melons are their favourite fruit regardless of skin colour. Very few Yoshis, such as black and white Yoshis, can digest peppers without hurting themselves. However, in Super Mario Galaxy 2, the playable green Yoshi can eat the Dash Pepper, turning him red-orange, and causing him to run very fast for a short amount of time. All Yoshis can eat enemies of various kinds, from large Koopas to plants. Also, if they eat a Bean Fruit, then they will lay a rare Neon Egg, the colour of which depends on the Yoshi's own skin colour.
Yoshis are capable of speaking human languages, as demonstrated by Yoshi in Super Mario World and Super Mario 64 as well as other Yoshis in games like Yoshi's Story, Paper Mario, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Super Mario Galaxy 2 (featuring Yoshi) and others. However, it seems that Yoshis speaking in human language is rare, as Yoshi must translate for Mario in Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars and Mario Super Sluggers.
In older games (and more recent ones such as New Super Mario Bros. Wii), Yoshi and his friends are "voiced" by the sound two pitch-bended orchestra hits (in Super Mario World only Yoshi spoke with a text bubble, though this was changed in the Super Mario Advance 2 version). In Yoshi's Story, the Yoshis are voiced by Nintendo musician Kazumi Totaka, who mutters the word "Yoshi" as well as a series of intelligible and unintelligible words, such as "gong" and "hup". His voice is sped up to create the babylike, high-pitched voices of the Yoshis.
Oddly, in the Mario & Luigi series, Yoshi still speaks with Super Mario RPG-style translation parentheses.
The Super Mario Adventures comic joked that Yoshis could only speak the word "Yoshi" with various marks of punctuation.
Although Baby Yoshis retain their squeaky voices in New Super Mario Bros. U and New Super Luigi U, their speech bubbles once again consist of the word "Yoshi" , which is translated for the player.