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I'm trying to figure out if they look that way naturally or if they're just grey Pikmin that have an affinity to build hard shells around themselves.
I'm thinking the latter (Bulbmin didn't look that way naturally, either, remember). I'm thinking that either the Rock Pikmin gather sand and silt and stuff and stick it to themselves to make a hard shell, or more likely they secrete calcite or something similar (much like certain shellfish do) to create a rocky shell.