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Passage 1

Origin of Species & Continent Formation


THE FACT THAT there was once a Pangean supercontinent, a Panthalassa Ocean, and a Tethys Ocean, has profound implications for the evolution of multicellular life on Earth. These considerations were unknown to the scientists of the 19th century — making their scientific deductions even more remarkable. Quite independently of each other, Charles Darwin and his young contemporary Alfred Russel Wallace reached the conclusion that life had evolved by natural selection. Wallace later wrote in My Life of his own inspiration:



Why do some species die and some live? The answer was clearly that on the whole the best fitted lived. From the effects of disease the most healthy escaped; from enemies the strongest, the swiftest or the most cunning from famine the best hunters ... then it suddenly flashed on me that this self-acting process would improve the race, because in every generation the inferior would inevitably be killed off and the superior would remain, that is , the fittest would survive.



Both Darwin's and Wallace's ideas about natural selection had been influenced by the essays of Thomas Malthus in his Principles of Population. Their conclusions, however, had been the direct result of their personal observation of animals and plants in widely separated geographic locations: Darwin from his experiences during the voyage of the Beagle, and particularly during the ship's visit to the Galapagos Islands in the East Pacific in 1835: Wallace during his years of travel in the Amazon Basin and in the Indonesia-Australian Archipelago in the 1850s.



Darwin had been documenting his ideas on natural selection for many years when he received a paper on this selfsame subject from Wallace, who asked for Darwin's opinion and help in getting it published. In July 1858, Charles Lyell and J. D Hooker, close friends of Darwin, pressed Darwin to present his conclusions so that he would not lose priority to and unknown naturalist. Presiding over the hastily called but now historic meeting of the Linnean Society in London, Lyell and Hooker explained to the distinguished members how "these two gentlemen" (who were absent: Wallace was abroad and Darwin chose not to attend), had "independently and unknown to one another, comceived the same very ingenious theory.”



Both Darwin and Wallace had realized that the anomalous distribution of species in particular regions had profound evolutionary significance. Subsequently, Darwin spent the rest of his days in almost total seclusion thinking and writing mainly about the origin of species. In constrast, Wallace applied himself to the science of biogeography, the study of the pattern and distribution of species, and its significance, resulting in the publication of a massive two-volume work the Geographical Distribution of Animals in 1876.



Wallace was a gentle and modest man, but also persistent and quietly courageous. He spent years working in the most arduous possible climates and terrains, particularly in the Malay archipelago, he made patient and detailed zoological observations and collected huge number of speciments for museums and collectors-which is how he made a living. One result of his work was the conclusion that there is a distinct faunal boundary, called "Wallace's line, "between an Asian realm of animals in Java, Borneo and the Philipiones and an Australian realm in New Guinea and Australia. In essence this boundary posed a difficult question: How on Earth did plants and animals with a clear affinity to the Northern Hemisphere meet with their Southern Hemispheric counterparts along such a distinct Malaysian demarcation zone? Wallace was uncertain about demarcation on one particular island- Celebes, a curiously shaped place that is midway between the two groups. Initially he assigned its flora-fauna to the Australian side of the line, but later he transferred it to the Asian side. Today we know the reason for his dilemma. 200MYA East and West Celebes were islands with their own natural history lying on opposite sides of the Tethys Ocean. They did not collide until about 15 MYA. The answer to the main question is that Wallace's Line categorizes Laurasia-derived flora-fauna (the Asian) and Gondwana-derived flora-fauna (the Australian), fauna that had evolved on opposing shares of the Tethys. The closure of the Tethys Ocean today is manifested by the ongoing collision of Australia/New Guinea with Indochina/Indonesia and the continuing closure of the Mediterranean Sea—a remnant of the Western Tethys Ocean.



IN HIS ORIGIN OF CONTINENTS AND OCEANS, Wegener quoted at length from Wallace’s Geographical Distribution of Animals. According to Wegener's reading, Wallace had identified three clear divisions of Australian animals, which supported his own theory of continental displacement. Wallace had shown that animals long established in southwestern Australia had an affinity with animals in South Africa, Madagascar, India, and Ceylon, but did not have an affinity with those in Asia. Wallace also showed that Australian marsupials and monotremes are clearly related to those in South America, the Moluccas, and various Pacific islands, and that none are found in neighboring Indonesia. From this and related data, Wegener concluded that the then broadly accepted "landbridge" theory could not account for this distribution of animals and that only his theory of continental drift could explain it.



The theory that Wegener dismissed in preference to his own proposed that plants and animals had once migrated across now-submerged intercontinental landbridges. In 1885, one of Europe's leading geologists, Eduard Suess, theorized that as the rigid Earth cools, its upper crust shrinks and wrinkles like the withering skin of an aging apple. He suggested that the planet's seas and oceans now fill the wrinkles between once-contiguous plateaus.



Today, we know that we live on a dynamic Earth with shifting, colliding and separating tectonic plates, not a "withering skin", and the main debate in the field of biogeography has shifted. The discussion now concerns "dispersalism" versus "vicarianism": unrestricted radiation of species on the one hand and the development of barriers to migration on the other. Dispersion is a short-term phenomenon—the daily or seasonal migration of species and their radiation to the limits of their natural environment on an extensive and continuous landmass. Vicarian evolution, however, depends upon the separation and isolation of a variety of species within the confines of natural barriers in the form of islands, lakes, or shallow seas—topographical features that take a long time to develop.

Questions 1-5

Use the information in the passage to match the people (listed A-E) with opinions or deeds below. Write the appropriate letters A-E in boxes 1-5 on your answer sheet.

A Suess

B Wallace

C Darwin and Wallace

D Wegener

E Lyell and Hooker


1 urged Darwin to publish his scientific findings

2 Depicted physical feature of earth's crust.

3 believed in continental drift theory while rejecting another one

4 Published works about wildlife distribution in different region.

5 Evolution of species is based on selection by nature.



Questions 6-8

The reading Passage has nine paragraphs A-l.

Which paragraph contains the following information?

Write the correct letter A-l, in boxes 6-8 on your answer sheet.

6 Best adaptable animal survived on the planet.

7 Boundary called Wallace's line found between Asia and Australia.

8 Animal relevance exists between Australia and Africa.



Questions 9-13


Complete the following summary of the paragraphs of Reading Passage, using no more than two words from the Reading Passage for each answer. Write your answers in boxes 9-13 on your answer sheet.


Wegener found that continental drift instead of “land bridge” theory could explain strange species' distribution phenomenon. In his theory, vegetation and wildlife 9___ intercontinentally. However, Eduard Suess compared the wrinkle of crust to 10___ of an old apple. Now it is well known that we are living on the planet where there are 11___ in constant mobile states instead of what Suess described Hot spot in biogeography are switched to concerns between two terms: “12___” and “13___”


Answer Key

1 E     2 A     3 D

4 B     5 C     6 B

7 F     8 G     9 migrated

10 withering skin   11 (tectonic) plates  12 dispersalism

13 vicarisanism

The dugong: sea cow

Dugongs are herbivorous mammals that spend their entire lives in the sea. Their close relatives the manatees also venture into or live in fresh water. Together dugongs and manatees make up the order Sirenia (海牛目) or sea cows, so-named because dugongs and manatees are thought to have given rise to the myth of the mermaids or sirens (女巫) of the sea.



The dugong, which is a large marine mammal which, together with the manatees, looks rather like a cross between a rotund dolphin and a walrus. Its body, flippers and fluke resemble those of a dolphin but it has no dorsal fin. Its head looks somewhat like that of a walrus without the long tusks.



Dugongs, along with other Sirenians whose diet consists mainly of sea-grass; and the distribution of dugongs very closely follows that of these marine flowering plants. As seagrasses grow rooted in the sediment, they are limited by the availability of light. Consequently they are found predominantly in shallow coastal waters, and so too are dugongs. But, this is not the whole story. Dugongs do not eat all species of seagrass, preferring seagrass of higher nitrogen and lower fibre content.



Due to their poor eyesight, dugongs often use smell to locate edible plants. They also have a strong tactile sense, and feel their surroundings with their long sensitive bristles. They will dig up an entire plant and then shake it to remove the sand before eating it. They have been known to collect a pile of plants in one area before eating them. The flexible and muscular upper lip is used to dig out the plants. When eating they ingest the whole plant, including the roots, although when this is impossible they will feed on just the leaves. A wide variety of seagrass has been found in dugong stomach contents, and evidence exists they will eat algae when seagrass is scarce. Although almost completely herbivorous, they will occasionally eat invertebrates such as jellyfish, sea squirts, and shellfish.



A heavily grazed seagrass bed looks like a lawn mown by a drunk. Dugongs graze apparently at random within a seagrass bed, their trails meandering in all directions across the bottom. This is rather an inefficient means of removing seagrass that results in numerous small tufts remaining. And this is where the dugongs derive some advantage from their inefficiency. The species that recover most quickly from this disturbance, spreading out vegetatively from the remaining tufts, are those that dugongs like to eat. In addition, the new growth found in these areas tends to be exactly what hungry dugongs like.



Dugongs arc semi-nomadic, often travelling long distances in search of food, but staying within a certain range their entire life. Large numbers often move together from one area to another. It is thought that these movements are caused by changes in seagrass availability. Their memory allows them to return to specific points after long travels. Dugong movements mostly occur within a localised area of seagrass beds, and animals in the same region show individualistic patterns of movement.



Recorded numbers of dugongs are generally believed to be lower than actual numbers, due to a lack of accurate surveys. Despite this, the dugong population is thought to be shrinking, with a worldwide decline of 20 per cent in the last 90 years. They have disappeared from the waters of Hong Kong, Mauritius, and Taiwan, as well as parts of Cambodia, Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam. Further disappearances are likely. (In the late 1960s, herds of up to 500 dugongs were observed off the coast of East Africa and nearby islands. However, current populations in this area are extremely small, numbering 50 and below, and it is thought likely they will become extinct. The eastern side of the Red Sea is the home of large populations numbering in the hundreds, and similar populations are thought to exist on the western side. In the 1980s, it was estimated there could be as many as 4,000 dugongs in the Red Sea. The Persian Gulf has the second-largest dugong population in the world, inhabiting most of the southern coast, and the current population is believed to be around 7,500. Australia is home to the largest population, stretching from Shark Bay in Western Australia to Moreton Bay in Queensland. The population of Shark Bay is thought to be stable with over 10,000 dugongs.)



Experience from various parts of northern Australia suggests that Extreme weather such as cyclones and floods can destroy hundreds of square kilometres of seagrass meadows, as well as washing dugongs ashore. The recovery of seagrass meadows and the spread of seagrass into new areas, or areas where it has been destroyed, can take over a decade. For example, about 900 km2 of seagrass was lost in Hervey Bay in 1992, probably because of murky water from flooding of local rivers, and run-off turbulence from a cyclone three weeks later. Such events can cause extensive damage to seagrass communities through severe wave action, shifting sand and reduction in saltiness and light levels. Prior to the 1992 floods, the extensive seagrasses in Hervey Bay supported an estimated 1750 dugongs. Eight months after the floods the affected area was estimated to support only about 70 dugongs. Most animals presumably survived by moving to neighbouring areas. However, many died attempting to move to greener pastures, with emaciated carcasses washing up on beaches up to 900km away.



If dugongs do not get enough to eat they may calve later and produce fewer young. Food shortages can be caused by many factors, such as a loss of habitat, death and decline in quality of seagrass, and a disturbance of feeding caused by human activity. Sewage, detergents, heavy metal, hypersaline water, herbicides, and other waste products all negatively affect seagrass meadows. Human activity such as mining, trawling, dredging, land-reclamation, and boat propeller scarring also cause an increase in sedimentation which smothers seagrass and prevents light from reaching it. This is the most significant negative factor affecting seagrass. One of the dugong's preferred species of seagrass, Halophila ovalis, declines rapidly due to lack of light, dying completely after 30 days.



Despite being legally protected in many countries, the main causes of population decline remain anthropogenic and include hunting, habitat degradation, and fishing-related fatalities. Entanglement in fishing nets has caused many deaths, although there are no precise statistics. Most issues with industrial fishing occur in deeper waters where dugong populations are low, with local fishing being the main risk in shallower waters. As dugongs cannot stay.



Questions 1-4


Complete the following summary of the paragraphs of Reading Passage, using no more than two words from the Reading Passage for each answer. Write your answers in boxes 1-4 on your answer sheet.

Dugongs are herbivorous mammals that spend their entire lives in the sea. Yet Dugongs are picky on their feeding seagrass, and only chose seagrass with higher 1.............. and lower fibre. To compensate for their poor eyesight, they use their 2.............. to feel their surroundings.

It is like Dugongs are "farming" seagrass. They often leave 3.............. randomly in all directions across the sea bed. Dugongs prefer eating the newly grew seagrass recovering from the tiny 4............. left behind by the grazing dugongs



Questions 5-9

Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 1?

In boxes 5-9 on your answer sheet, write

TRUE   if the statement is true

FALSE   if the statement is false

NOT GIVEN  if the information is not given in the passage

5 The dugong will keep eating up the plant completely when they begin to feed.

6 It takes more than ten years for the re-growth of seagrass where it has been only grazed by Dugongs.

7 Even in facing food shortages, the strong individuals will not compete with weak small ones for food.

8 It is thought that the dugong rarely return to the old habitats when they finished plant.

9 Coastal industrial fishing poses the greatest danger to dugongs which are prone to be killed due to entanglement.



Questions 10-13

Answer the questions below.

Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER from the passage for each answer.

10 What is Dugong in resemblance to yet as people can easily tell them apart from the manatees by the fins in its back?

11 What is the major reason as Dugongs travelled long distances in herds from one place to another?

12 What number, has estimated to be, of dugong' population before the 1992 floods in Hervey Bay took place?

13 What is thought to be the lethal danger when dugongs were often trapped in?

Answer Key

1 Nitrogen   2 sensitive bristles   3 trails

4 tufts    5 TRUE     6 FALSE


10 Dolphin   11 Seagrass availability/ Food (shortage)/ Seagrass shortage

12 1750   13 Fishing net

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