2823: Fossil

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The two best reasons to get into fossils are booping trilobites and getting to say the word "fossiliferous" a lot.
Title text: The two best reasons to get into fossils are booping trilobites and getting to say the word "fossiliferous" a lot.


Trilobites are an extinct group of species of marine animal, one of the earliest known groups of arthropods. The first appearance of trilobites in the fossil record is from about 521 million years ago and last from about 252 million years ago. They were very common and have easily fossilized exoskeleton, so their fossils can be found very often.

In the comic, Cueball is digging at a site with Megan, Ponytail, and White Hat visible in the background. He finds and digs up a trilobite fossil and proceeds to boop it (possibly because he thinks it’s cute?). "Booping" is when someone lightly taps another person, or sometimes an animal, on the nose while saying "boop", typically to annoy or as a form of endearment. In panel 2, the fossil is shown with the trilobite head pointed away from Cueball. In panel 3 he boops the head section, likely aiming for where the nose would be, if one were to imagine a trilobite having a nose. The anatomical part of the trilobite being "booped" is referred to as the glabella by palaeontologists. The Glabella is located in the center of the cephalon (head), where one would expect a nose to be located.

An off-screen character yells at him for doing this, probably because fossils are often fragile and excessive touching may cause it to break, or because doing so is not showing the due respect for a once-living being that is much older than Cueball, or because Cueball might contaminate the sample, or because overly strict rules are funny.

Fossiliferous (of a rock or stratum) means containing fossils or organic remains, and Randall implies that it is a fun word to say (it really is!).


[Cueball is holding two halves of a rock in a paleontological site. Megan, Ponytail, and White Hat are working in the background.]
Cueball: It's weird to pry open a rock and see an animal that no one has laid eyes on for 400 million years.
[Zoom in on Cueball looking at the fossil he is holding.]
[Cueball pokes the fossil.]
Cueball: Boop!
Off-panel voice: Hey! Don't boop the trilobites!
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Boop! PotatoGod (talk) 07:53, 2 September 2023 (UTC)

In Nathan Hale's graphic novel, The Mighty Bite, the title character is a trilobite who gets booped on the nose by an ape god. Cueball needs to find a shaft of ladders. Mrkxcd (talk) 12:55, 11 September 2023 (UTC)

Came here to find out what in the heck ‘boop’ has to do with anything, learned absolutely nothing (autospell changed it to “book” so I’m not alone). 08:17, 2 September 2023 (UTC)

There's a link there now (not sure when anyone added it, might have been after your query) which satisfies me somewhat. Seems to be a playful tagging/"you're it!" sort of thing, though, like "punch buggy <yellow/etc>", it's not something I really knew of though probably appears to be in Randall's childhood/whatever cultural background and that's good enough for me. 09:53, 2 September 2023 (UTC)
I agree that "boop" needs an extra explanation for non native speakers of English. The link is useful (thanks to whoever added it) but the Wiktionary definition alone is too terse to get the pun.--Pere prlpz (talk) 11:54, 2 September 2023 (UTC)
Wait wait wait.... It's a pun? 00:35, 5 September 2023 (UTC)
I think more specifically it would be non-native speakers of American English. 08:55, 11 September 2023 (UTC)
I added the wikitionary link and I was not entirely happy with it, but it's a starting point. Please do improve it. To me, "boop" is a friendly pat on the nose that one might do to, especially, a dog's nose; see https://www.hillspet.com/dog-care/play-exercise/do-dogs-like-dog-boops?. Definitely more affectionate and less aggressive than the "punch buggy" action (which can get out of hand), or even tagging. I was surprised that https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boop did not have a mention of this, not even on the talk page; yeah, it's not the most encyclopedic of topics, but discussing social behaviors is beyond the bounds of wiktionary, and Urban Dictionary isn't a great place to cite to (even if it were helpful). JohnHawkinson (talk) 12:26, 2 September 2023 (UTC)
To the non-native English speakers, it's basically just playfully, gently touching a dog or other animal/pet on the nose while saying "Boop". Like "I got your nose." Not really petting/stroking; just a form of play or affection. I'm not surprised there isn't a lot documented on this as it's not really a "thing". Kind of like Randall's use of pew pew pew noises while pretending to fire a ray gun. You understand what he's doing and may have done it yourself, but it's not the kind of thing you expect to find on Wikipedia. :) 15:40, 2 September 2023 (UTC) Pat
"Boop" can also be a great training tool: Dogs love to poke us with their noses, so a lot of them can readily be trained to come put their nose in your hand when you hold it palm out & say "Boop"! Adorable & handy. ProphetZarquon (talk) 03:03, 4 September 2023 (UTC)
Huh, and here I was thinking that it must be something people did to annoy animals, cats in particular don't enjoy being poked in the nostril. I am somewhat mystified by this entire thing. 22:08, 4 September 2023 (UTC)
Oh doing it to a cat is definitely a surefire way to tick them off; though I've known quite a few male cats so affectionate as to boop their face against any hand extended near enough to them. When they boop us, it's a sign of affection, when we boop them, the response depends greatly on the boopee's demeanor & mood. ProphetZarquon (talk) 04:24, 6 September 2023 (UTC)
That (a cat-boop, but by another name) is even integrated into Dwarf Fortress code, as can be seen in its Raws (i.e. entity configuration files). 'Show' the details at the bottom of this wiki page and look right at the bottom for the [CAN_DO_INTERACTION:BP_BUMP] definition structure. 08:40, 6 September 2023 (UTC)
I'm often amused by the phrasing used in code: The fact that terms like "is.can.has.cheeseburger:" can ever be syntactically apropos, makes it feel like the whole structural methodology was developed by a committee of lolcats.
ProphetZarquon (talk) 18:14, 6 September 2023 (UTC)
Try searching "boop", "nose boop" or similar on TikTok and you'll know what it's about. Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 15:22, 5 September 2023 (UTC)

The furries gonna have a field day with this one :] 22:07, 2 September 2023 (UTC)

I was actually curios as whether any eye had ever seen a 400 million old fossil. Had to look it up to see when the first eyes evolved. But seems it was around 550 million years ago, so some eyes may have seen the animal that turned in to the fossil Cueball now sees. ;-) --Kynde (talk) 12:47, 3 September 2023 (UTC)

"... see an animal that no one has laid eyes on..." strongly implies that the "no one" means "no human being". Which doesn't really make sense in this context. -- Dtgriscom (talk) 02:15, 4 September 2023 (UTC)

I thought that the rock with the trilobite looks like a remote control button that makes a "beep" or "boop" when you push it. Or alternatively an infant's toy that has a button that makes a sound like a clown's nose. So Cueball is pressing the trilobite and vocalizing the "boop" sound that would be expected from these objects. Although "booping" a child's nose is a thing ... although it seems very rude ... I did not associate the fossil rock with the trilobite with noses, but I did associate it with remote control devices that have a flat pad with a button (or many buttons) on it. Rtanenbaum (talk) 13:26, 3 September 2023 (UTC)

Here is an example picture of a trilobite which has two large eyes and a centre area which might be booped. The fossil is 3D meaning it is not flat. trilobite.jpg In contrast a fossil fish will often be flat, almost 2D, and show only one eye. Many people in North America do not like to see the head of a fish and so the head of a fossil fish can also seem odd. Punchcard (talk) 22:07, 3 September 2023 (UTC)

Can someone provide a pronunciation guide, preferrably a phonetic representation, of the word fossiliferous ? Anyone except native speakers of English who are also paleonthology enthousiasts will likely be unsure whether to pronounce it as "fossi-LI-ferous" or "fossili-FE-rous". Blagae (talk) 12:15, 4 September 2023 (UTC)

I'm not a palæontologist, who might know differently, but as an English speaker (one of a multitude of potentially different Englishes) I'd say fossi-LI-ferous, as I would carbo-NI-ferous or splen-DI-ferous, it seeming to be the general pattern for that type of word.
I (a native English speaker, but not of any flavour of English that includes 'boop' as a common word) detest that pronunciation pattern that often puts the stress on the semanitcally least significant syllable. Catherine (talk) 22:13, 8 September 2023 (UTC)
But emphasis would so easily change, at need. "That limestone is not only CARBONiferous, but particularly FOSSILiferous, too!" would be a rhetoric stress. (Though the number of times people mis-stress things... It's not "The cousins came to the party. Not only Jack JONES, but Pete JONES too...", which sounds weird to me when one should stress JACK and PETE, both of them 'merely' Joneses. So often do I hear this sort of thing done wrongly, it makes me wonder if actually I'm wrong about it all!)
Does that help? Noting that wiktionary gives /splɛnˈdɪfəɹəs/, with the ˈ in it where I'd generally agree, but that isn't included as an -iferous rhymer and certainly fossiliferous doesn't have a full IPA, with or without the ˈ point. And someone with a full classicist education might well have other ideas anyway (also yer average Leftpondian, especially Randall, but differently so again). 16:43, 4 September 2023 (UTC)
Personally, I wouldn't say either of those - I would say FOSS-uh-LIFF-uh-russ. 08:53, 11 September 2023 (UTC)