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Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Revision as of 12:19, 18 December 2013

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki!
We have an explanation for all 2 xkcd comics, and only 36 (2%) are incomplete. Help us finish them!

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Volcano Dinosaur
Phylogeneticists are working on identifying and notifying its next of kin.
Title text: Phylogeneticists are working on identifying and notifying its next of kin.

Explanation

Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by a SLOWLY RECOVERING DINOSAUR. Please mention here why this explanation isn't complete. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.

This comic is a reference to this discovery of dinosaur fossils that were buried and killed by a volcanic eruption, similar to what occurred in Pompeii in the first century AD.

Facetiously, Megan asks if the dinosaur was okay. As living things typically don't survive being fossilized in volcano debris[citation needed], the answer to the question would obviously be "no", but Cueball replies that he is unsure. Even if the dinosaur somehow survived the initial burial, it would be impossible for it to survive buried for 125 million years[citation needed].

The title text suggests contacting its "next of kin", which usually means a nearest living relative, e.g. a brother or a sister. In this case, dinosaurs are extinct, so it is the job of phylogeneticists (those who study evolutionary relationships) to determine which living animal is the "nearest relative" to the deceased dinosaurs.

Transcript

Ambox notice.png This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.
[Megan is standing facing right, talking to Cueball who is sitting at a computer desk and also facing right, looking at a computer screen.]
Cueball: Oh cool, they just found a dinosaur that was buried by a volcanic eruption 125 million years ago.
Megan: Wow.
[Megan is still facing right. Cueball is not shown. This panel has no dialogue.]
[Megan has stepped closer to Cueball, who is still looking at the screen.]
Megan: Was it okay?
Cueball: Hmm, it doesn't say.

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