IELTS® Academic Reading Practice 31

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Drifting Species

Today, Earth is a planet inhabited by hundreds of millions of different plant and animal species, and formed by seven continents and five oceans. However, the earth that we call home today did not always appear as it does now on a typical globe. Abraham Ortelius was the first to propose that the continents were not always separated, but were once part of a larger, now fragmented landmass, and that the continents had somehow drifted towards where they sit currently. Back Ortelius’ time of 1596, this radical idea was hardly given a second thought. But by 1912, scientists of the 20th century such as Alfred Wegener had begun theorizing on what’s now known as plate tectonics, an idea that was confirmed as correct with the help of improved technology available by the 1960’s.

Pangea is the name given to the giant landmass once formed about 250 million years ago. This supercontinent was, in fact, comprised of the seven distinct continents which we now know today. Between nearly a hundred million to 45 million years later, during the Triassic period, the enormous mass of Pangea started to splinter. First, it split in two, forming the northern and southern continents known as Laurasia and Gondwana. Laurasia, the northern continent, would later form what is today North America, Europe, and Asia, while the southern Gondwana would form South America, Africa, India, Antarctica, and Australia. These continents would not take their recognizable shapes of today until around 65 million years ago, during the Cretaceous Period.

Fossils dating prior to earth’s landmasses splitting provided the proof necessary for plate tectonics and continental drift. In coastal areas of what are now distinct continents, research in archaeology has revealed plant and animal species which would have lived on both continents. Fossils discovered on Brazilian and South African coasts suggest that the mesosaurus, a small animal resembling a crocodile, lived on a larger continent prior to any separation. Meanwhile, another animal, the lystrosaurus, has also been found in Triassic rock in the continents of Africa, India, and Antarctica. A final example comes from fossils of the fern Glossopteris, which are present on all five of Gondwana’s split pieces.

As continental drift affects the biodiversity of earth, it has led to several species which appear on different continents around the world. Speciation, a key factor to evolution, is a result of different species of one living thing developing into other species, so distinct from one another that they can no longer interbreed. Geographic factors may contribute further to speciation in what is known as allopatric speciation, which occurs when a group of organisms becomes geographically divided somehow. Once the populations are separated, they will begin to genetically diverge over generations. Divergences in genetics due to isolated populations can arise for a variety of reasons, such as mutations, genetic drift, and selective adaptations depending on environment.

Therefore, we can attribute much of the great biodiversity on Earth today to continental drift, which led to the separation of groups of living things. Specific biomes have now developed all over the planet, thanks to the seven split continents and five oceans. Not only does diversity arise between separate continents, but also in the vast distances within them.

Continental drift’s huge influence species evolution can be exemplified through South American and Australian animal populations. Continental drift’s huge influence species evolution can be exemplified through South American and Australian animal populations. Both aforementioned regions were once part of the great southern landmass of Gondwana, and once the landmass began to break apart, the animals of both sides were carried off in different directions, separating their populations. Marsupials, such as kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, and wombats are a specific subtype of mammal which reproduce by using a pouch. Today, they are mostly only natively found in Australia. However, in the region which is now South America, the opossum constitutes one marsupial living there today. Otherwise, placental mammals, who carry their young within a womb similar to humans, dominate there.

While the tectonic plates moving around contributed to both continental separation and biodiversity, there were other geological processes also at play. The tectonic plates have also collided, forming new textures of landmasses, namely, mountains, in what are known as convergent plate boundaries. These plate boundaries physically affect areas by pushing up the land as they collide, separating landmasses, and consequently, entire populations of animals and plants. Meanwhile, ocean animals’ habitats are also affected by the collision of tectonic plates, which actually acts against biodiversity negatively.

If the animals shared an area of land, they may have evolved from a common ancestor at some point in the past.
(A) is right about biodiversity, since continental drift facilitates allopatric speciation. We know that allopatric speciation results in new species, and therefore greater diversity.

(B) is incorrect.

(C) is right about biodiversity, since collision is destroying marine habitats.

(D) is right about biodiversity. See explantions for (A) and (C)
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 1-11.
Questions 1-6
Do the following statements agree with the information given in the reading passage? In boxes 1-6 on your answer sheet, write

TRUE   if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE   if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN   if there is no information on this.

1. Pangea formed from the convergence of a northern and southern landmass.

2. In the future, the tectonic plates will continue to drift apart, increasing separation between continents.

3. During the process of allopatric speciation, two different groups develop similar traits in response to the same environmental pressures.

4. If two populations are separated, they may no longer be able to interbreed after some time.

5. Placental mammals in South America and marsupials in Australia may evolve from a common ancestor.

6. Tectonic activity has resulted in the separation of the continents over time.

Questions 7-11
Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D.

Write your answers in boxes 7-11 on your answer sheet.

7. What happened during the Triassic period?

8. Why does the author discuss mesosaurus, lystrosaurus, and glossopteris?

9. Which of the following provided evidence for the existence of a past supercontinent?

10. Which of the following is NOT true about biodiversity?

11. How did continental drift affect the populations of marsupials today?


Answer Sheet
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
N/A
13
N/A
14
N/A
15
N/A
16
N/A
17
N/A
18
N/A
19
N/A
20
N/A
21
N/A
22
N/A
23
N/A
24
N/A
25
N/A
26
N/A
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
Drifting Species

Today, Earth is a planet inhabited by hundreds of millions of different plant and animal species, and formed by seven continents and five oceans. However, the earth that we call home today did not always appear as it does now on a typical globe. Abraham Ortelius was the first to propose that the continents were not always separated, but were once part of a larger, now fragmented landmass, and that the continents had somehow drifted towards where they sit currently. Back Ortelius’ time of 1596, this radical idea was hardly given a second thought. But by 1912, scientists of the 20th century such as Alfred Wegener had begun theorizing on what’s now known as plate tectonics, an idea that was confirmed as correct with the help of improved technology available by the 1960’s.

Pangea is the name given to the giant landmass once formed about 250 million years ago. This supercontinent was, in fact, comprised of the seven distinct continents which we now know today. Between nearly a hundred million to 45 million years later, during the Triassic period, the enormous mass of Pangea started to splinter. First, it split in two, forming the northern and southern continents known as Laurasia and Gondwana. Laurasia, the northern continent, would later form what is today North America, Europe, and Asia, while the southern Gondwana would form South America, Africa, India, Antarctica, and Australia. These continents would not take their recognizable shapes of today until around 65 million years ago, during the Cretaceous Period.

Fossils dating prior to earth’s landmasses splitting provided the proof necessary for plate tectonics and continental drift. In coastal areas of what are now distinct continents, research in archaeology has revealed plant and animal species which would have lived on both continents. Fossils discovered on Brazilian and South African coasts suggest that the mesosaurus, a small animal resembling a crocodile, lived on a larger continent prior to any separation. Meanwhile, another animal, the lystrosaurus, has also been found in Triassic rock in the continents of Africa, India, and Antarctica. A final example comes from fossils of the fern Glossopteris, which are present on all five of Gondwana’s split pieces.

As continental drift affects the biodiversity of earth, it has led to several species which appear on different continents around the world. Speciation, a key factor to evolution, is a result of different species of one living thing developing into other species, so distinct from one another that they can no longer interbreed. Geographic factors may contribute further to speciation in what is known as allopatric speciation, which occurs when a group of organisms becomes geographically divided somehow. Once the populations are separated, they will begin to genetically diverge over generations. Divergences in genetics due to isolated populations can arise for a variety of reasons, such as mutations, genetic drift, and selective adaptations depending on environment.

Therefore, we can attribute much of the great biodiversity on Earth today to continental drift, which led to the separation of groups of living things. Specific biomes have now developed all over the planet, thanks to the seven split continents and five oceans. Not only does diversity arise between separate continents, but also in the vast distances within them.

Continental drift’s huge influence species evolution can be exemplified through South American and Australian animal populations. Continental drift’s huge influence species evolution can be exemplified through South American and Australian animal populations. Both aforementioned regions were once part of the great southern landmass of Gondwana, and once the landmass began to break apart, the animals of both sides were carried off in different directions, separating their populations. Marsupials, such as kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, and wombats are a specific subtype of mammal which reproduce by using a pouch. Today, they are mostly only natively found in Australia. However, in the region which is now South America, the opossum constitutes one marsupial living there today. Otherwise, placental mammals, who carry their young within a womb similar to humans, dominate there.

While the tectonic plates moving around contributed to both continental separation and biodiversity, there were other geological processes also at play. The tectonic plates have also collided, forming new textures of landmasses, namely, mountains, in what are known as convergent plate boundaries. These plate boundaries physically affect areas by pushing up the land as they collide, separating landmasses, and consequently, entire populations of animals and plants. Meanwhile, ocean animals’ habitats are also affected by the collision of tectonic plates, which actually acts against biodiversity negatively.

If the animals shared an area of land, they may have evolved from a common ancestor at some point in the past.
(A) is right about biodiversity, since continental drift facilitates allopatric speciation. We know that allopatric speciation results in new species, and therefore greater diversity.

(B) is incorrect.

(C) is right about biodiversity, since collision is destroying marine habitats.

(D) is right about biodiversity. See explantions for (A) and (C)
 
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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