IELTS® Academic Reading Practice 26

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Polar Dinosaurs

The study and exploration of dinosaurs are included at one point or another in science curricula across schools in North America. Understanding these spectacular creatures sheds light on Planet Earth before humans came into existence and provides us with a fascinating look at prehistoric times. However, how comprehensive is our understanding of dinosaurs and the places in which they dwelled? Think about what you have heard, learned, or studied regarding dinosaurs and their habitats. When it comes to their dwellings, you are probably thinking of a humid swamp or an extremely hot forest. While certain dinosaurs most certainly lived in these types of environments for millions of years, scientists have found recent information that could contradict everything we seem to know about these creatures.

Would you be surprised to find out that Antarctica or Alaska were probable homes for dinosaurs? Just last year, paleontologists unearthed the remains of dinosaurs that were known to live in environments that were cold for most of the year. Rightly so, this discovery called for a thorough investigation and quite an open mind from the scientific community, as the findings had the potential to change our understanding of dinosaurs, or at least add an intriguing facet to the subject. Once the remains had been dug up and analyzed, paleontologists came to the conclusion that these creatures were known as “polar dinosaurs”, and endured long periods of dimly-lit environments for up to eight months! This has also provided further information regarding the initial stages of the Earth's changing climate. For instance, the “dimly-lit environments” during prehistoric times most likely occurred during a winter season, since it was generally the coldest period of the year.

However, these typical winters may have been much different from what current society is familiar with. In fact, they were most likely much milder than winters today. Scientists estimate that the typical winter in the area that we now come to regard as “Alaska” was closer to something that we may see in present-day Chicago. That is, there was plenty of ice and snow, but nowhere near what current temperatures in Alaska are known to be. Moreover, examining the temperature differences from these prehistoric winters and comparing them with what we experience today is a truly fascinating opportunity to understand how our climate has evolved.

Of course, fossils have played a large part in our understanding of dinosaurs, and continue to unleash excellent clues into prehistoric times. Unsurprisingly, they have also helped researchers link various relatives of dinosaurs together, ultimately providing more information regarding their habitats and probable locations.  Fossil evidence shows that the relatives of the popular Tyrannosaurus Rex would have roamed forests full of conifers, otherwise known as cone-bearing trees, which were similar to our modern day juniper or pine trees. These dinosaurs would have most likely hunted the thirty-five foot long herbivores, Edmontosaurus, in these forests. In this case, fossils have also verified information researchers had already speculated about when understanding the relationships between dinosaurs who acted as predators and those who met their ends as prey.

The changing temperatures and seasons forced dinosaurs to evaluate their habitats and make possible changes as to where they chose to dwell. For instance, when the winter season arrived, polar dinosaurs were faced with two options. First, they could stay where they were over the long winter, or escape to warmer climates. Scientists believe that the dinosaurs that stayed in a given area may have been warm-blooded, similar to modern birds and mammals because they maintained a body temperature through metabolic processes. As this was considered quite a bold finding, it was met with criticisms and disbelief from the scientific community. Initially, some critics posited that these polar dinosaurs were most likely cold-blooded, remaining warm by absorbing sunshine. However, due to recent findings regarding the dimly-lit areas, this theory would be impossible, further proving the fact that these dinosaurs were warm-blooded.

Despite the initial contrary and popular belief, many paleontologists now agree that polar dinosaurs were warm-blooded. Looking at fossils has helped solidify this finding, and has unlocked more knowledge on not only prehistoric weather patterns, but on how these dinosaurs looked and roamed the land as well. For example, instead of working with projected models of fossils made of clay, paleontologists were finally able to base their findings off of real, physical fossils. This enabled them to truly understand the size and magnitude of dinosaur bones, especially in terms of their growth rates. Recently, these researchers were able to compare the dinosaurs' growth rates with those of both living and extinct animals, and found that the growth rate of the polar dinosaurs matched that of mammals. On the contrary, cold-blooded animals have shorter limbs and fewer degrees of muscle mass than warm-blooded animals. Thus, this fascinating discovery has made waves in the archaeological and paleontological world. Perhaps we will have to re-evaluate our knowledge of dinosaurs and their dwellings and revamp the way this is taught in schools!

13. C - The statement, “Once the remains had been dug up and analyzed, paleontologists came to the conclusion that these creatures were known as “polar dinosaurs”, and endured long periods of dimly-lit environments for up to eight months!” proves this to be correct. The word 'overcast' is a synonym for 'dimly-lit', and 'eight months' is the majority of the year. Nothing is mentioned regarding how social the dinosaurs were (meaning A is not correct), and while Antarctica is mentioned, it is not because the dinosaurs spent time there. The keyword 'humid conditions' in option D is a trick because it is mentioned in the previous paragraph, and nothing confirms that the dinosaurs lived in humid conditions for 'lengthy periods'.
14. B - The statement, “...these typical winters may have been much different from what current society is familiar with. In fact, they were most likely much milder than winters today.” proves this to be correct. The fact that the winters were 'mild' shows that they did not have extremely low temperatures. While they did contain ice and snow, they are not known to have had 'brutally low temperatures' (making C incorrect). Additionally, they were not similar to winters in current-day Alaska (making A incorrect) and were not harsh (making D incorrect).
15. A - The statement, “Fossil evidence shows that the relatives of the popular Tyrannosaurus Rex would have roamed forests full of conifers, otherwise known as cone-bearing trees, which were similar to our modern-day juniper or pine trees.” proves this to be correct. Nothing is mentioned regarding their height (making B incorrect) and we cannot say that they hunted only Edmontosaurus dinosaurs (making D incorrect). While fossil evidence did provide interesting evidence, it did not prove the existence of the relatives of Tyrannosaurus Rex (making C incorrect).
16. A - The statement, “These dinosaurs would have most likely hunted the thirty-five food long herbivores, Edmontosaurs in these forests.” proves this to be correct, since the other type of dinosaur was the Tyrannosaurus Rex and its relatives. We cannot say for certain whether Edmontosaurus were predatory (making B incorrect), nor the reason why they were herbivores (making D incorrect). Since they were hunted by Tyrannosaurus Rex in the forests, they would have been familiar with conifers, making C incorrect.
17. D - The statement, “Scientists believe that the dinosaurs that stayed in a given area may have been warm-blooded, similar to modern birds and mammals, because they maintained a body temperature through metabolic processes.” proves this to be correct. The metabolic process has nothing to do with sunlight absorption (making A incorrect). Option B is incorrect because these dinosaurs were not cold-blooded. Option C is incorrect because their metabolism did not allow them to remain in one place, instead, it is the other way around.
18. B - The statement, “ Initially, some critics posited that these polar dinosaurs were most likely cold-blooded, remaining warm by absorbing sunshine. ” proves this to be correct. Option A is incorrect because the areas were dimly-lit. Option C is incorrect because they did not escape to warmer climates, and option D is incorrect since the theory involves the idea that these dinosaurs were cold-blooded.
19. C - The statements, “Recently, these researchers were able to compare the dinosaurs' growth rates with those of both living and extinct animals, and found that the growth rate of the polar dinosaurs matched that of mammals.” prove this to be correct. Option A is incorrect because metabolic processes are not discussed. Option B is incorrect because the matter has been solved and is no longer questionable. Option D is incorrect because it was not examined solely from dinosaur fossils, but also through studying other animals.
20. D - The statement, “ On the contrary, cold-blooded animals have shorter limbs and fewer degrees of muscle mass than warm-blooded animals. ” proves this to be correct. The fact that they can be compared against each other makes option B incorrect, but they are not compared to polar dinosaurs in the text, making option A incorrect. Option C is incorrect because they show different traits in terms of size and length.
21. NOT GIVEN -  Information contradicting nor validating this fact is not necessarily present in the text. The statement, “The changing temperatures and seasons forced dinosaurs to evaluate their habitats and make possible changes as to where they chose to dwell.”, discusses only general terms, and does not specify the type of season or temperature. The example, “For instance, when the winter season arrived, polar dinosaurs were faced with two options. First, they could stay where they were over the long winter, or escape to warmer climates.” describes the winter seasons, but does not contradict the idea that these dinosaurs did not seek a change in summer seasons. In general, the text does not provide information relating to the dinosaurs' actions in the summer season. Therefore, this is NOT GIVEN.
22. NO - The statements, “Despite the initial contrary and popular belief, many paleontologists now agree that polar dinosaurs were warm-blooded. Looking at fossils has helped solidify this finding.” prove that the writer would not agree with the question statement.
23. YES - The statements,Initially, some critics posited that these polar dinosaurs were most likely cold-blooded, remaining warm by absorbing sunshine. However, due to recent findings regarding the dimly-lit areas, this theory would be impossible...” prove that the writer would agree with the question statement.
24. NOT GIVEN - Information is not sufficient to make an assumption.
25. YES - The statement,Thus, this fascinating discovery has made waves in the archaeological and paleontological world. ” proves that the writer would agree with the question statement.

26. NO - The statement, “Perhaps we will have to re-evaluate our knowledge of dinosaurs and their dwellings and revamp the way this is taught in schools!” proves that the writer would not agree with the question statement.
This reading practice simulates one part of the IELTS Academic Reading test. You should spend about twenty minutes on it. Read the passage and answer questions 13-26.
Questions 13-20
Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D.

Write your answers in boxes 13-20 on your answer sheet.

13. Based on research, polar dinosaurs spent

14. Winters endured by polar dinosaurs

15. Relations of Tyrannosaurus Rex

16. Based on the passage, it can be assumed that Edmontosaurs

17. Because of polar dinosaurs' metabolism

18. Initial theories posited that polar dinosaurs retained heat

19. The debate regarding the body temperature of polar dinosaurs

20. Warm-blooded and cold-blooded animals

Questions 21-26
Do the following statements agree with the information given in the reading passage? In boxes 21-26 on your answer sheet, write

YES   if the statement reflects 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

21. Polar dinosaurs seldom sought a change in the environment during the summer season.

22. Fossils did not play a large part in understanding polar dinosaurs.

23. The theory of cold-blooded polar dinosaurs is not plausible.

24. The fossils of polar dinosaurs should be put on display in museums.

25. The discovery of polar dinosaurs is interesting in its own right.

26. There is no need to include information about polar dinosaurs in schools.


Answer Sheet
1
N/A
2
N/A
3
N/A
4
N/A
5
N/A
6
N/A
7
N/A
8
N/A
9
N/A
10
N/A
11
N/A
12
N/A
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
N/A
28
N/A
29
N/A
30
N/A
31
N/A
32
N/A
33
N/A
34
N/A
35
N/A
36
N/A
37
N/A
38
N/A
39
N/A
40
N/A


Reading Passage Vocabulary
Polar Dinosaurs

The study and exploration of dinosaurs are included at one point or another in science curricula across schools in North America. Understanding these spectacular creatures sheds light on Planet Earth before humans came into existence and provides us with a fascinating look at prehistoric times. However, how comprehensive is our understanding of dinosaurs and the places in which they dwelled? Think about what you have heard, learned, or studied regarding dinosaurs and their habitats. When it comes to their dwellings, you are probably thinking of a humid swamp or an extremely hot forest. While certain dinosaurs most certainly lived in these types of environments for millions of years, scientists have found recent information that could contradict everything we seem to know about these creatures.

Would you be surprised to find out that Antarctica or Alaska were probable homes for dinosaurs? Just last year, paleontologists unearthed the remains of dinosaurs that were known to live in environments that were cold for most of the year. Rightly so, this discovery called for a thorough investigation and quite an open mind from the scientific community, as the findings had the potential to change our understanding of dinosaurs, or at least add an intriguing facet to the subject. Once the remains had been dug up and analyzed, paleontologists came to the conclusion that these creatures were known as “polar dinosaurs”, and endured long periods of dimly-lit environments for up to eight months! This has also provided further information regarding the initial stages of the Earth's changing climate. For instance, the “dimly-lit environments” during prehistoric times most likely occurred during a winter season, since it was generally the coldest period of the year.

However, these typical winters may have been much different from what current society is familiar with. In fact, they were most likely much milder than winters today. Scientists estimate that the typical winter in the area that we now come to regard as “Alaska” was closer to something that we may see in present-day Chicago. That is, there was plenty of ice and snow, but nowhere near what current temperatures in Alaska are known to be. Moreover, examining the temperature differences from these prehistoric winters and comparing them with what we experience today is a truly fascinating opportunity to understand how our climate has evolved.

Of course, fossils have played a large part in our understanding of dinosaurs, and continue to unleash excellent clues into prehistoric times. Unsurprisingly, they have also helped researchers link various relatives of dinosaurs together, ultimately providing more information regarding their habitats and probable locations.  Fossil evidence shows that the relatives of the popular Tyrannosaurus Rex would have roamed forests full of conifers, otherwise known as cone-bearing trees, which were similar to our modern day juniper or pine trees. These dinosaurs would have most likely hunted the thirty-five foot long herbivores, Edmontosaurus, in these forests. In this case, fossils have also verified information researchers had already speculated about when understanding the relationships between dinosaurs who acted as predators and those who met their ends as prey.

The changing temperatures and seasons forced dinosaurs to evaluate their habitats and make possible changes as to where they chose to dwell. For instance, when the winter season arrived, polar dinosaurs were faced with two options. First, they could stay where they were over the long winter, or escape to warmer climates. Scientists believe that the dinosaurs that stayed in a given area may have been warm-blooded, similar to modern birds and mammals because they maintained a body temperature through metabolic processes. As this was considered quite a bold finding, it was met with criticisms and disbelief from the scientific community. Initially, some critics posited that these polar dinosaurs were most likely cold-blooded, remaining warm by absorbing sunshine. However, due to recent findings regarding the dimly-lit areas, this theory would be impossible, further proving the fact that these dinosaurs were warm-blooded.

Despite the initial contrary and popular belief, many paleontologists now agree that polar dinosaurs were warm-blooded. Looking at fossils has helped solidify this finding, and has unlocked more knowledge on not only prehistoric weather patterns, but on how these dinosaurs looked and roamed the land as well. For example, instead of working with projected models of fossils made of clay, paleontologists were finally able to base their findings off of real, physical fossils. This enabled them to truly understand the size and magnitude of dinosaur bones, especially in terms of their growth rates. Recently, these researchers were able to compare the dinosaurs' growth rates with those of both living and extinct animals, and found that the growth rate of the polar dinosaurs matched that of mammals. On the contrary, cold-blooded animals have shorter limbs and fewer degrees of muscle mass than warm-blooded animals. Thus, this fascinating discovery has made waves in the archaeological and paleontological world. Perhaps we will have to re-evaluate our knowledge of dinosaurs and their dwellings and revamp the way this is taught in schools!

13. C - The statement, “Once the remains had been dug up and analyzed, paleontologists came to the conclusion that these creatures were known as “polar dinosaurs”, and endured long periods of dimly-lit environments for up to eight months!” proves this to be correct. The word 'overcast' is a synonym for 'dimly-lit', and 'eight months' is the majority of the year. Nothing is mentioned regarding how social the dinosaurs were (meaning A is not correct), and while Antarctica is mentioned, it is not because the dinosaurs spent time there. The keyword 'humid conditions' in option D is a trick because it is mentioned in the previous paragraph, and nothing confirms that the dinosaurs lived in humid conditions for 'lengthy periods'.
14. B - The statement, “...these typical winters may have been much different from what current society is familiar with. In fact, they were most likely much milder than winters today.” proves this to be correct. The fact that the winters were 'mild' shows that they did not have extremely low temperatures. While they did contain ice and snow, they are not known to have had 'brutally low temperatures' (making C incorrect). Additionally, they were not similar to winters in current-day Alaska (making A incorrect) and were not harsh (making D incorrect).
15. A - The statement, “Fossil evidence shows that the relatives of the popular Tyrannosaurus Rex would have roamed forests full of conifers, otherwise known as cone-bearing trees, which were similar to our modern-day juniper or pine trees.” proves this to be correct. Nothing is mentioned regarding their height (making B incorrect) and we cannot say that they hunted only Edmontosaurus dinosaurs (making D incorrect). While fossil evidence did provide interesting evidence, it did not prove the existence of the relatives of Tyrannosaurus Rex (making C incorrect).
16. A - The statement, “These dinosaurs would have most likely hunted the thirty-five food long herbivores, Edmontosaurs in these forests.” proves this to be correct, since the other type of dinosaur was the Tyrannosaurus Rex and its relatives. We cannot say for certain whether Edmontosaurus were predatory (making B incorrect), nor the reason why they were herbivores (making D incorrect). Since they were hunted by Tyrannosaurus Rex in the forests, they would have been familiar with conifers, making C incorrect.
17. D - The statement, “Scientists believe that the dinosaurs that stayed in a given area may have been warm-blooded, similar to modern birds and mammals, because they maintained a body temperature through metabolic processes.” proves this to be correct. The metabolic process has nothing to do with sunlight absorption (making A incorrect). Option B is incorrect because these dinosaurs were not cold-blooded. Option C is incorrect because their metabolism did not allow them to remain in one place, instead, it is the other way around.
18. B - The statement, “ Initially, some critics posited that these polar dinosaurs were most likely cold-blooded, remaining warm by absorbing sunshine. ” proves this to be correct. Option A is incorrect because the areas were dimly-lit. Option C is incorrect because they did not escape to warmer climates, and option D is incorrect since the theory involves the idea that these dinosaurs were cold-blooded.
19. C - The statements, “Recently, these researchers were able to compare the dinosaurs' growth rates with those of both living and extinct animals, and found that the growth rate of the polar dinosaurs matched that of mammals.” prove this to be correct. Option A is incorrect because metabolic processes are not discussed. Option B is incorrect because the matter has been solved and is no longer questionable. Option D is incorrect because it was not examined solely from dinosaur fossils, but also through studying other animals.
20. D - The statement, “ On the contrary, cold-blooded animals have shorter limbs and fewer degrees of muscle mass than warm-blooded animals. ” proves this to be correct. The fact that they can be compared against each other makes option B incorrect, but they are not compared to polar dinosaurs in the text, making option A incorrect. Option C is incorrect because they show different traits in terms of size and length.
21. NOT GIVEN -  Information contradicting nor validating this fact is not necessarily present in the text. The statement, “The changing temperatures and seasons forced dinosaurs to evaluate their habitats and make possible changes as to where they chose to dwell.”, discusses only general terms, and does not specify the type of season or temperature. The example, “For instance, when the winter season arrived, polar dinosaurs were faced with two options. First, they could stay where they were over the long winter, or escape to warmer climates.” describes the winter seasons, but does not contradict the idea that these dinosaurs did not seek a change in summer seasons. In general, the text does not provide information relating to the dinosaurs' actions in the summer season. Therefore, this is NOT GIVEN.
22. NO - The statements, “Despite the initial contrary and popular belief, many paleontologists now agree that polar dinosaurs were warm-blooded. Looking at fossils has helped solidify this finding.” prove that the writer would not agree with the question statement.
23. YES - The statements,Initially, some critics posited that these polar dinosaurs were most likely cold-blooded, remaining warm by absorbing sunshine. However, due to recent findings regarding the dimly-lit areas, this theory would be impossible...” prove that the writer would agree with the question statement.
24. NOT GIVEN - Information is not sufficient to make an assumption.
25. YES - The statement,Thus, this fascinating discovery has made waves in the archaeological and paleontological world. ” proves that the writer would agree with the question statement.

26. NO - The statement, “Perhaps we will have to re-evaluate our knowledge of dinosaurs and their dwellings and revamp the way this is taught in schools!” proves that the writer would not agree with the question statement.
 
IELTS Academic Reading Tips for Success
These are general tips that will appear on all reading questions.

Tips to improve your reading speed
To get a high score on the IELTS reading section, you need to have a fast reading speed. To have a fast reading speed, you need to improve your vocabulary and practice dissecting sentences. One strategy to dissect a sentence is to look for the subject and verb of the sentence. Finding the subject and verb will help you better understand the main idea of said sentence. Keep in mind, a common feature of a IELTS reading passage is to join strings of ideas to form long compound sentences. This produces large chunks that students have a hard time absorbing. Do not get overwhelmed by its length, just look for the subject and verb, the rest of the ideas will flow.

Keep in mind, having a slow reading speed makes skimming or scanning a reading passage more difficult. The process of quickly skimming through a reading passage for specific keywords or main ideas is a requirement for you to employ successful reading strategies to improve your IELTS reading score. In other words, skimming and scanning are critical skills to ensure you complete all questions in the allotted time frame.
IELTS Reading Strategies
Once you can read and comprehend a passage with a rate of, at least, 220 words per minute, you'll be ready to start implementing our strategies. All too often, students spend too much time reading the passages and not enough time answering the questions. Here is a step by step guide for tackling the reading section.

  1. Step 1: Read questions first

    One of the most common mistakes that candidates make when approaching the reading exam is reading every single word of the passages. Although you can practice for the exam by reading for pleasure, "reading blindly" (reading without any sense of what the questions will ask) will not do you any favors in the exam. Instead, it will hurt your chances for effectively managing your time and getting the best score.

    The main reason to read the questions first is because the type of question may determine what you read in the passage or how you read it. For example, some question types will call for the "skimming" technique, while others may call for the "scanning" technique.

    It is important to answer a set of questions that are of the same question type. You'll need to determine which question type you want to tackle first. A good strategy would be to start with the easier question type and move on to more difficult question types later. The Easiest question types are the ones where you spend less time reading. For example, the Matching Heading question type is an easier one because you only need to find the heading that best describes the main idea of a paragraph. An example of a difficult question type would be Identifying Information. For this question type, you'll need to read each paragraph to find out if each statement is TRUE, FALSE, or NOT GIVEN according to the passage.

    Here is a table that lists the difficulty levels for each question type. Use this table as a reference when choosing which question type you want to tackle first.

    Difficulty level Question Type
    Easy Sentence Completion
    Short answer
    Medium Matching Features
    Multiple choice
    Matching Headings
    Summary, Table, Flow-Chart Completion
    Difficult Matching Sentence Endings
    Matching Information
    Identifying Information (TRUE/FALSE/NOT GIVEN)
    Identifying Viewer's claims (YES/NO/NOT GIVEN)

  2. Step 2: Read for an objective

    After you've read the questions for the passage, you will be able to read for an objective. What does this mean? For example, if you come across a question that includes the year "1896", you can make a note of when this year comes up in the text, using it to answer the question later on. There are two reading techniques that will help you stay on track with reading for an objective. The first one, skimming, is best defined as reading fast in order to get the "gist", or general idea, or a passage. With this technique, you are not stopping for any unfamiliar words or looking for specific details. The second technique, scanning, is best defined as reading for specific information. With this technique, you are not reading for the overall gist, but rather, specific information. Notice how each of these techniques has a specific objective in mind. This will help you find information more quickly.

  3. Step 3: Take notes

    As you're reading for an objective, you should also be making notes on the margins of the passage, placing stars next to key information, or underlining things that you believe will help you answer the various questions. This will make it easier for you to check back when you are asked certain things in the questions. Choose whichever note-taking system is right for you - just make sure you do it!

  4. Step 4: Answer wisely

    After you've read the questions, read the passage, and have taken any appropriate notes, you you should have located the part of the text where you where you need to read carefully. Then just read carefully and think critically to determine the correct answer.

IELTS Reading Question Types
 
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