English Comprehension : Passage 3

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Read the following passage and select the most appropriate option.

Passage 3

The preservation of embryos and juveniles is rare occurrence in the fossil record. The tiny, delicate skeletons are usually scattered by scavengers or destroyed by weathering before they can be fossilized. Ichthyosaurs had a higher chance of being preserved than did terrestrial creatures because, as marine animals, they tended to live in environments less subject to erosion. Still, their fossilization required a suite of factors: a slow rate of decay of soft tissues, little scavenging by other animals, a lack if swift currents and waves to jumble and carry away small bones, and fairly rapid burial. Given these factors, some areas have become a treasury of well-preserved ichthyosaur fossils.

The deposits at Holzmaden, Germany, present an interesting case for analysis. The ichthyosaur remains are found in black, bituminous marine shales deposited about 190 million years ago. Over the years, thousands of specimens of marine reptiles, fish, and invertebrates have been recovered from these rocks. The quality of preservation is outstanding, but what is even more impressive is the number of ichthyosaur fossils containing preserved embryos. Ichthyosaurs with embryos have been reported from 6 different levels of the shale in a small area around Holzmaden, suggesting that a specific site was used by large numbers of ichthyosaurs repeatedly over time. The embryos are quite advanced in their physical development; their paddles, for example, are already well formed. One specimen is even preserved in the birth canal. In addition, the shale contains the remains of many newborns that are between 20 and 30 inches long.  

Why are there so many pregnant females and young at Holzmaden when they are so rare elsewhere? The quality of preservation is almost unmatched, and quarry operations factors do not account for the interesting question of how there came to be such a concentration of pregnant ichthyosaurs in a particular place very close to their time of giving birth.

1. The passage supports which of the following conclusions?
(A) Some species of ichthyosaurs decayed more rapidly than other species.
(B) Ichthyosaur newborns are smaller than other newborn marine reptiles.
(C) Ichthyosaurs were more advanced than terrestrial creatures.
(D) Ichthyosaurs may have gathered at Holzmaden to give birth.

2. The word ‘they’ in first paragraph refers to
(A) skeletons
(B) scavengers
(C) creatures
(D) environments

3. All are mentioned as factors that encourage fossilization EXCEPT the
(A) speed of burial
(B) conditions of the water
(C) rate at which soft tissues decay
(D) cause of death of the animal.

4. Which of the following is true of the fossil deposits discussed in the passage?
(A) They include examples of newly discovered species.
(B) They contain large numbers of well-preserved specimens
(C) They are older than fossils found in other places
(D) They have been analyzed more carefully than other fossils.

5. The word ‘outstanding’ in paragraph 2 is closest in meaning to
(A) extensive
(B) surprising
(C) vertical
(D) excellent

6. The word ‘site’ in second paragraph is closest in meaning to
(A) example
(B) location
(C) development
(D) characteristic

7. Why does the author mention the specimen preserved in the birth canal (paragraph 2)?
(A) To illustrate that the embryo fossils are quite advanced in their development
(B) To explain why the fossils are well preserved
(C) To indicate how the ichthyosaurs died
(D) To prove that ichthyosaurs are marine animals.

8. The word ‘they’ in last paragraph refers to
(A) pregnant females and young
(B) quarry operations
(C) the value of the fossils
(D) these factors

9. The phrase ‘account for’ in paragraph 3 is closest in meaning to
(A) record
(B) describe
(C) equal
(D) explain

10. Which of the following best expresses the relationship between the first and second paragraphs?
(A) The first paragraph describes a place while the second paragraph describes a field of study.
(B) The first paragraph defines the terms that are used in the second paragraph.
(C) The second paragraph describes a specific instance of the general topic discussed in the first paragraph.
(D) The second paragraph presents information that contrasts with the information given in the first paragraph.

11. Where in the passage does the author mentions the variety of fossils found at Holzmaden?
(A) Line 1
(B) First half of Paragraph 1
(C) First half of Paragraph 2
(D) Second half of Paragraph 2


1-D, 2-A, 3-D, 4-B, 5-D, 6-B, 7-A, 8-A, 9-D, 10-C, 11-C

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