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I've recently rewatched ST:DS9 - Season 7, Episode 6 - Treachery, Faith and the Great River. In this Episode, Nog tries to get a graviton stabilizer and makes several deals in order to get one. In doing so, he does several deals and brings O'Brien into an uncomfortable situation. O'Brien then asks Nog to explain and Nog refers to the Great Material Continuum.

Nog: You need to have faith, chief.

O'Brien: In a rumour?

Nog: No, in the Great Material Continuum.

O'Brien: Ahhhhh. Who are they?

Nog explains the continuum.

O'Brien: I must've missed that class in engineering.

Nog: Not on Ferenginar. We learn about the Continuum while we still have our first set of ears.

I think I've never heard before or again that Ferengi have different set of ears. So

  • Is this meant literally, like humans lose their first set of teeth, or figuratively, meaning they're still young and don't have the lobes for business yet?

  • Does it mean, like NKCampbell suggested, that their ears grow in different stages?

  • Should it be literally:

    • At what age do they lose their first set of ears?
    • Do they lose their ears on a regular basis and they regrow or is it like human teeth: you have some when you're young and then as a grown up?
    • Is there a depiction somewhere of a Ferengi without ears?
  • Should it be in stages

    • How many stages are there and when do they grow?
    • Is there a depiction somewhere of the different stages?
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    or looking at the makeup, Nog appears to have several 'layers' of ear lobe. There is an inner, 'normal' ear that would generally correspond to human ear placement, then a second, higher lobe on top of that, and then finally the outer lobe that becomes a bony prominence across the forehead. Seems possible that he is referring to a staggered formation of those features over the course of adolescent development
    – NKCampbell
    Jul 15, 2020 at 18:12
  • @NKCampbell possible, forgot that possibility.
    – Shade
    Jul 15, 2020 at 18:17
  • Its a saying. Like "No cat out of its first fur gave anyone a straight answer" youtube.com/watch?v=GGpey4PQbt4
    – jo1storm
    Jul 16, 2020 at 6:49
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    I don't recall any Ferengi younger than Nog shown on any of the TV shows. Have there been any depicted in any other media?
    – Burhan Ali
    Jul 16, 2020 at 14:49
  • Yes, but Ferengi children have to pay the Lobe Fairy to dispose of them. Dec 14, 2022 at 1:25

2 Answers 2

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In Star Trek: Picard, S02E02, we see the skull of a Ferengi in alternate timeline Picard's house:

Skull of a Ferengi in Picard's House

As clearly depicted, the Ferengi ears are not made from cartilage, like human ears, but bones. Not only are there bones, there are two different structures for the ears. Nogs statement can be interpreted that these two structures grow in different stages during the maturation of a Ferengi.

This, as shed bones and then regrow is highly improbable and would make no evolutionary sense.

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    "as shed bones and then regrow is highly improbable and would make no evolutionary sense" Tell that to deer and other ungulates. May 11, 2022 at 15:38
  • 6
    Aren't human teeth kind of like bones that are shed and regrown? Dec 14, 2022 at 1:26
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While not canonical proof, there is further evidence that Ferengis literally undergo some sort of dramatic physical change in their ears during puberty (may or may not be complete replacement of ears), as implied by Ferengi using the term "lobeling" to refer to a young Ferengi.

In the DS9 episode "Profit and Lace"

ISHKA: You're overreacting.

QUARK: Whatever you say.

ISHKA: Reminds me of when you were a lobeling. You were always such a miserable child.

QUARK: Moogie, leave me alone.

There also seems to be further evidence that others believe the literal interpretation of young Ferengi losing their ears like teeth, as illustrated (literally) by the (non-canon) "Lobe hag"

the lobehag is a mythical creature of ferenginar. somewhat akin to the terran toothfairy, she is responsible for collecting the shedded lobeling-ears of young adolescents in exchange for three slips of latinum.

https://lobehag.tumblr.com/

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    The lobehag appears to be a fan creation.
    – Valorum
    Jul 21, 2020 at 10:36
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    "others believe", "non-canon"
    – Seldon75
    Jul 21, 2020 at 11:30
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    Because other fans have created things is not evidence of anything other than the ingenuity of fans to invent stuff.
    – Valorum
    Jul 21, 2020 at 11:37
  • @Seldon75 "further evidence" is the problem
    – OrangeDog
    May 10, 2022 at 12:47

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