The evolutional mystery: Crocodile survives
Crocodiles have been around for 200 million years, but they're certainly not primitive. The early forms of crocodiles are known as Crocodilia. Since they spent most of their life beneath water, accordingly their body adapted to aquatic lifestyle. Due to the changes formed within their body shape and tendency to adapt according to the climate they were able to survive when most of the reptiles of their period are just a part of history. In their tenure on Earth, they’ve endured the impacts of meteors, planetary refrigeration, extreme upheavals of the Earth’s tectonic surface and profound climate change. They were around for the rise and fall of the dinosaurs, and even 65 million years of supposed mammalian dominance has failed to loosen their grip on the environments they inhabit.
The first crocodile-like ancestors appeared about 230 million years ago, with many of the features that make crocs such successful stealth hunters already in place: streamlined body, long tail, protective armour and long jaws. They have long head and a long tail that helps them to change their direction in water while moving. They have four legs which are short and are webbed. Never underestimate their ability to move on ground. When they move they can move at such a speed that won’t give you a second chance to make a mistake by going close to them especially when hungry. They can lift their whole body within seconds from ground.
Crocodilians have no lips. When submerged in their classic ‘sit and wait’ position, their mouths fill with water. The nostrils on the tip of the elongated snout lead into canals that run through bone to open behind the valve - allowing the crocodilian to breathe through its nostrils even though its mouth is under water. When the animal is totally submerged, another valve seals the nostrils, so the crocodilian can open its mouth to catch prey with no fear of drowning. The thin skin on the crocodilian head and face is covered with tiny, pigmented domes, forming a network of neural pressure receptors that can detect barely perceptible vibrations in the water. This enables a crocodile lying in silent darkness to suddenly throw its head sideways and grasp with deadly accuracy small prey moving close by.
Like other reptiles, crocodiles are endothermic animals (cold-blooded, or whose body temperature varies with the temperature of the surrounding environment) and, therefore, need to sunbathe, to raise the temperature of the body. On the contrary, if it is too hot, they prefer being in water or in the shade. Being a cold-blooded species, the crocodilian heart is unique in having an actively controlled valve that can redirect, at will, blood flow away from the lungs and recirculate it around the body, taking oxygen to where it’s needed most. In addition, their metabolism is a very slow one, so, they can survive for long periods without feeding. Crocodiles are capable of slowing their metabolism even further allowing them to survive for a full year without feeding.
Crocodiles use a very effective technique to catch the prey. The prey remains almost unaware of the fact that there can be any crocodile beneath water. The crocodile is successful because it switches its feeding methods. It hunts fish, grabs birds at the surface, hides among the water edge vegetation to wait for a gazelle to come by, and when there is a chance for an ambush, the crocodile lunges forward, knocks the animal with its powerful tail and then drags it to water where it quickly drowns. Another way is to wait motionless for an animal to come to the water's edge and grabs it by its nose where it is held to drown.
In many places inhabited by crocodilians, the hot season brings drought that dries up their hunting grounds and takes away the means to regulate their body temperature. They allowed reptiles to dominate the terrestrial environment. Furthermore, many crocs protect themselves from this by digging burrows and entombing themselves in mud, waiting for months without access to food or water, until the rains arrive. To do this, they sink into a quiescent state called aestivation.
Most of (At least nine species of) crocodilian are thought to aestivate during dry periods. Kennett and Christian's six-year study of Australian freshwater crocodiles - Crocodylus johnstoni (the King Crocodiles). The crocodiles spent almost four months a year underground without access to water. Doubly labeled water was used to measure field metabolic rates and water flux, and plasma (and cloacal fluid samples were taken at approximately monthly intervals during some years to monitorthe effects of aestivation with respect to the accumulation of nitrogenous wastes and electrolyte concentrations. Doubly found that the crocodiles’ metabolic engines tick over, producing waste and using up water and fat reserves. Waste products are stored in the urine, which gets increasingly concentrated as the months pass. However, the concentration of waste products in the blood changes very little, allowing the crocodiles to function normally. Furthermore, though the animals lost water and body mass (just over one-tenth of their initial mass) while underground, the losses were proportional: on emergence, the aestivating crocodiles were not dehydrated and exhibited no other detrimental effects such as a decreased growth rate. Kennett and Christian believe this ability of individuals to sit out the bad times and endure long periods of enforced starvation must surely be key to the survival of the crocodilian line through time.
Reading passage 2 has seven paragraphs, A-G;
Choose the correct heading for paragraphs A-G from the list below.
Write the correct number, i-xi, in boxes 14-20 on your answer sheet.
List of Headings
i The competitors with the dinosaur
ii A historical event for the Supreme survivors.
iii What makes the crocodile the fastest running animal on land
iv Regulated body temperature by the surrounding environment
v Underwater aid in body structure offered to a successful predator
vi The perfectly designed body for a great land roamer
vii Slow metabolisms which makes crocodile a unique reptile
viii The favorable features in the impact of a drought
ix Shifting Eating habits and food intake
x A project on a special mechanism
xi A unique findings has been achieved recently
14 Paragraph A
15 Paragraph B
16 Paragraph C
17 Paragraph D
18 Paragraph E
19 Paragraph F
20 Paragraph G
Complete the summary and write the correct answer (no more than two words or a number) in boxes 21-26 on your answer sheet.
In many places inhabited by crocodilians, most types of the crocodile has evolved a successful scheme to survive in the drought brought by a 21............. According to Kennett and Christian's six-year study of Australian freshwater crocodiles' aestivation, they found Aestivating crocodiles spent around 22............. a year without access to 23.............. The absolute size of body water pools declined proportionately with ......24...; thus there is no sign of 25............. and other health-damaging impact in the crocodiles even after an aestivation period. This super capacity helps crocodiles endure the tough drought without slowing their speed of 26............. significantly
21 dry season/hot season/dry period
22 four months
24 body mass