Sunday, July 10, 2022

Australia’s Lost Giants Reading Answers

Australia’s Lost Giants Reading Answers

Australia’s Lost Giants Reading Answers


In 1969, a fossil hunter named Rod Wells came to Naracoorte in South Australia to explore what was then known as Victoria Cave. Wells clawed through narrow passages, and eventually into a huge chamber. Its floor of red soil was littered with strange objects. It took Wells a moment to realize what he was looking at: the bones of thousands of creatures that must have fallen through holes in the ground above and become trapped. Some of the oldest belonged to mammals far larger than any found today in Australia. They were the ancient Australian megafauna – huge animals of the Pleistocene epoch. In boneyards across the continent, scientists have found the fossils of a giant snake, a huge flightless bird, and a seven foot kangaroo, to name but a few. Given how much ink has been spilled on the extinction of the dinosaurs, it’s a wonder that even more hasn’t been devoted to megafauna. Prehistoric humans never threw spears at Tyrannosaurus rex but really did hunt mammoths and mastodons.


The disappearance of megafauna in America – mammoths, saber-toothed cats, giant sloths, among others – happened relatively soon after the arrival of human beings, about 13,000 years ago. In the 1960s, paleoecologist Paul Martin developed what became known as the blitzkrieg hypothesis. Modern humans, Martin said, created havoc as they spread through the Americas, wielding spears to annihilate animals that had never faced a technological predator. But this period of extinction wasn’t comprehensive. North America kept its deer, black bears and a small type of bison, and South America its jaguars and llamas.


What happened to Australia’s large animals is baffling. For years scientists blamed the extinctions on climate change. Indeed, Australia has been drying out for over a million years, and the megafauna were faced with a continent where vegetation began to disappear. Australian paleontologist Tim Flannery suggests that people, who arrived on the continent around 50,000 years ago, used fire to hunt, which led to deforestation. Here’s what’s certain, Flannery says. Something dramatic happened to Australia’s dominant land creatures – somewhere around 46,000 years ago, strikingly soon after the invasion of a tool-wielding, highly intelligent predator.

In Flannery’s 1994 book called The Future Eaters, he sets out his thesis that human beings are a new kind of animal on the planet, and are in general, one prone to ruining ecosystems. Flannery’s book proved highly controversial. Some viewed it as critical of the Aborigines, who pride themselves on living in harmony with nature. The more basic problem with Flannery’s thesis is that there is no direct evidence that they killed any Australian megafauna. It would be helpful if someone uncovered a Diprotodon skeleton with a spear point embedded in a rib – or perhaps Thylacoleo bones next to the charcoal of a human campfire. Such kill sites have been found in the Americas but not in Australia.


The debate about megafauna pivots to a great degree on the techniques for dating old bones and the sediments in which they are buried. If scientists can show that the megafauna died out fairly quickly and that this extinction event happened within a few hundred, or even a couple thousand years, of the arrival of people, that’s a strong case – even if a purely circumstantial one – that the one thing was the direct result of the other. As it happens, there is one place where there may be such evidence: Cuddie Springs in New South Wales. Today the person most vocal about the site is archeologist Judith Field. In 1991, she discovered megafauna bones directly adjacent to stone tools – a headline-making find. She says there are two layers showing the association, one about 30,000 years old, the other 35,000 years old. If that dating is accurate, it would mean humans and megafauna coexisted in Australia for something like 20,000 years. “What Cuddie Springs demonstrates is that you have an extended overlap of humans and megafauna,” Field says. Nonsense, say her critics. They say the fossils have been moved from their original resting places and redeposited in younger sediments.


Another famous boneyard in the same region is a place called Wellington Caves, where Diprotodon, the largest known marsupial – an animal which carries its young in a pouch like kangaroos and koalas – was first discovered. Scientist Mike Augee says that: “This is a sacred site in Australian paleontology.” Here’s why: In 1830 a local official named George Rankin lowered himself into the cave on a rope tied to a protrusion in the cave wall. The protrusion turned out to be a bone. A surveyor named Thomas Mitchell arrived later that year, explored the caves in the area, and shipped fossils off to Richard Owen, the British paleontologist who later gained fame for revealing the existence of dinosaurs. Owen recognized that the Wellington cave bones belonged to an extinct marsupial. Later, between 1909 and 1915 sediments in Mammoth Cave that contained fossils were hauled out and examined in a chaotic manner that no scientist today would approve. Still, one bone in particular has drawn extensive attention: a femur with a cut in it, possibly left there by a sharp tool.


Unfortunately, the Earth preserves its history haphazardly. Bones disintegrate, the land erodes, the climate changes, forests come and go, rivers change their course – and history, if not destroyed, is steadily concealed. By necessity, narratives are constructed from limited data. Australia’s first people expressed themselves in rock art. Paleontologist Peter Murray has studied a rock painting in far northern Australia that shows what looks very much like a megafauna marsupial known as Palorchestes. In Western Australia another site shows what appears to be a hunter with either a marsupial lion or a Tasmanian tiger – a major distinction, since the marsupial lion went extinct and the much smaller Tasmanian tiger survived into the more recent historical era. But as Murray says, “Every step of the way involves interpretation. The data doesn’t just speak for itself.”

Questions 14-18

Reading Passage 2 has six paragraphs, A-F.

Which paragraph contain the following information?

Write the correct letter, A-F, in boxes 14-18 on your reading answer sheet.

NB You may use any letter more than once.

14) descriptions of naturally occurring events that make the past hard to trace

15) an account of the discovery of a particular animal which had died out 

16) the reason why a variety of animals all died in the same small area 

17) the suggestion that a procedure to uncover fossilised secrets was inappropriate 

18) examples of the kinds of animals that did not die out as a result of hunting 

Questions 19 & 20

Choose TWO letters, A-E.

Write the correct letters in boxes 19 and 20 on your answer sheet.

Which TWO of these possible reasons for Australian megafauna extinction are mentioned in the text?

A. human activity

B. disease

C. loss of habitat

D. a drop in temperature

E. the introduction of new animal species

Questions 21 & 22

Choose TWO letters, A-E.

Write the correct letters in boxes 21 and 22 on your answer sheet.

The list below shows possible forms of proof for humans having contact with Australian megafauna.

Which TWO possible forms of proof does the writer say have been found in Australia?

A. bone injury caused by a man-made project

B. bones near to early types of weapon

C. man-made holes designed for trapping animals

D. preserved images of megafauna species

E. animal remains at camp fires

Questions 23-26

Do the following statements agree with the claims of the writer in Reading Passage 2?

In boxes 23-26 on your reading answer sheet, write:

YES if the statement agrees with the claims of the writer

NO if the statement contradicts the claims of the writer

NOT GIVEN if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this

23) Extinct megafauna should receive more attention than the extinction of the dinosaurs.

24) There are problems with Paul Martin’s ‘blitzkrieg’ hypothesis for the Americas.

25) The Aborigines should have found a more effective way to protest about Flannery’s book.

26) There is sufficient evidence to support Tim Flannery’s ideas about megafauna extinction.

Australia’s Lost Giants Reading Answers

14 F

15 E

16 A

17 E

18 B

19 A/C

20 A/C

21 A/D (in either order)

22 A/D (in either order)





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