IELTS Academic Reading Practice 32

 
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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 12-26.

Questions 12-19

Do the following statements reflect the claims of the writer in the reading passage? In boxes 12-19 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

12. Theorists don’t all agree about how quickly evolution happens.
13. Through natural selection, organisms could branch off of each other and evolve to the point where they no longer belong to the same species.
14. James Hutton and Charles Lyell developed their theories in geology after Darwin had identified that species undergo gradual evolution.
15. The presence of irreducibly complex system supports Darwin's theory.
16. Modern technology has been used to prove that irreducibly complex systems exists
17. The belief that the complexity of the human eye could have been formed by natural selection seems highly likely.
18. The absence of intermediate forms in the fossil record do not provide one way or the other of gradualism.
19. The research on trilobites demonstrates clearly that punctuated equilibrium cannot be true.
Questions 20-22

Choose three letters A-F.

Write your answers in boxes 20-22 on your answer sheet.

Which THERE of the following are stated about punctuated equilibrium?
  1. It emphasizes a slow process of evolutionary change
  2. It accounts for lack of intermediate forms in the fossil record
  3. It was weakened by imperfect fossils records
  4. It proposes that change occurs in isolated populations of a species
  5. It was proposed in the 20th century
  6. It explains how genetic materials are passed on through reproduction

20
21
22
Questions 23-26

Look at the following Statements (Questions 23-26) and A list of people below.

Match each statement with the correct person..

Write the correct number A-D in boxes Questions 23-26 on your answer sheet.

NB You may use any letter more than once.

A list of people
  1. Stephen Jay Gould
  2. Dr. Peter Sheldon of Cambridge University
  3. Charles Darwin
  4. James Hutton and Charles Lyell

23. demonstrated that the theory of punctuated equilibrium is not correct.
24. postulated that new species evolve from existing species through often imperceptible changes.
25. theorized that geologic processes that were around at the beginning of time were the same ones that were happening at the current time.
26. states that organisms remain stable until a major change causes evolutionary pressures.

Answer Sheet
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
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


  • help Learn how to HIGHLIGHT & ADD NOTES
    1. HOLD LEFT CLICK
    2. DRAG MOUSE OVER TEXT
    3. RIGHT CLICK SELECTED TEXT

Species Evolution

According to simple definitions, biological evolution is the process of change over time. However, mountains change over time, and biological evolution surely doesn’t apply to them. So, more aptly, biological evolution can be described in the words of Charles Darwin himself: “descent with modification.” Key to this definition is “descent;” within a species, individuals pass on genetic information through reproduction. Some genetic traits become favored; that is, they are advantages in the battle for survival. They therefore become passed on more frequently than those traits which are not favored. And so we have the “modification” part of the equation. Although nobody now disagrees about the basic mechanism by which evolution occurs, there has been considerable disagreement – ever since the theory of evolution was first propounded – about the rate of change and species adaptation.

Natural selection contributes to the basis of Darwin's Theory of Evolution. One of the core tenets of Darwin's theory is that more offspring are always produced for a species than can possibly survive. Yet, no two offspring are perfectly alike. As a result, through random mutation and genetic drift, over time offspring develop new traits and characteristics. Over time beneficial traits and characteristics that promote survival will be kept in the gene pool while those that harm survival will be selected against. Therefore, this natural selection ensures that a species gradually improves itself over an extended duration of time. This idea of gradualism means that onlookers are unable to see great change in a short period because great changes are simply the culmination of the small changes that happen over long periods. This follows the prominent geological theories of the time put forward by James Hutton and Charles Lyell., who published the idea that the same processes that formed the Earth at the very beginning were the same that were happening in the present day. These "ancient" processes changed the Earth slowly and gradually, but the mechanism never changed.

One major holes in Darwin's theory revolves around “irreducibly complex systems.” An irreducibly complex system is known as a system where many different parts must all operate together. As a result, in the absence of one, the system as a whole collapses. Consequently, as modern technology improves, science can identify these “irreducibly complex systems” even at microscopic levels. These complex systems, if so inter-reliant, would be resistant to Darwin's supposition of how evolution occurs. As Darwin himself admitted, “To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivance for adjusting the focus for different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I free confess, absurd in the highest degree".

To answer questions about evolution, we normally look to the fossil record for answers. By examining what is written through fossils in the different layers of the earth, we can observe how species changed over time. Darwin claimed that proof of gradualism should be able to be found in “intermediate forms” in the fossil record. That is, modifications within a species should appear in small incremental stages. There is, however, an unavoidable complicating factor: the fossil record is incomplete. We do not have a comprehensive catalog of fossils at our disposal. Instead, there are gaps in the record, gaps which proponents of gradualism say account for the lack of extant transitional forms.

Of course, perhaps the lack of intermediate forms (in truth, the record does include some examples of transitional modifications) in the fossil record indicates a lack of transitional forms throughout history. In other words, perhaps gradualism is incorrect. In 1972 Stephen Jay Gould took the scientific world by storm with his paper on “punctuated equilibrium, written with Niles Eldredge. Challenging a core assumption of Darwin’s theory of evolution, it launched the career of one of the most influential evolutionary biologists of our time—perhaps the best known since Darwin. According to this hypothesis, adaptations within species occur quickly, in short bursts, after long periods of stasis. During such periods of stasis – the “equilibrium” of the name – little change occurs. Then, we see a rapid and dramatic variation, leading to a new species. Their hypothesis included the idea that such sudden changes typically occurred in relatively small and isolated populations within a given species, living on the periphery. These “geographical isolates,” as they put it, had advantageous morphological variations, and therefore greater success at reproduction. Subsequently, they spread through the range of the species from which they stemmed, replacing them.

It would appear that the fossil record supports this claim of bursts in evolution, as the records show little growth or evidence of continuous changes. Instead, we see sudden major changes, sometimes resulting in a whole new species. If fossil records were less scant, scientists who support gradualism might anticipate that fossils would show traces of adaptation each year. Yet, the imperfection of fossil records lends credence to punctuated equilibrium. But what do we observe in fossil records that are more reliable, in which we have many more representative examples throughout history?

Consider the series of trilobites and their segments that have been studied by Dr. Peter Sheldon of Cambridge University. The fossil records for these trilobites were constant, as a series of rock layers rich with fossils provides remains of several species of this extinct segmented marine animal. Sheldon’s study reviewed eight species of trilobites, finding that each species experienced a gradual increase in the number of segments. Over a span of three million years in evolution, Sheldon found that there were no bursts of change in the species. This would appear to give lie to punctuated equilibrium; however, Sheldon has admitted that the environmental conditions in which the trilobites lived remained relatively constant, which may account for the slow rate of change.

Reading Passage Vocabulary
Species Evolution

According to simple definitions, biological evolution is the process of change over time. However, mountains change over time, and biological evolution surely doesn’t apply to them. So, more aptly, biological evolution can be described in the words of Charles Darwin himself: “descent with modification.” Key to this definition is “descent;” within a species, individuals pass on genetic information through reproduction. Some genetic traits become favored; that is, they are advantages in the battle for survival. They therefore become passed on more frequently than those traits which are not favored. And so we have the “modification” part of the equation. Although nobody now disagrees about the basic mechanism by which evolution occurs, there has been considerable disagreement – ever since the theory of evolution was first propounded – about the rate of change and species adaptation.

Natural selection contributes to the basis of Darwin's Theory of Evolution. One of the core tenets of Darwin's theory is that more offspring are always produced for a species than can possibly survive. Yet, no two offspring are perfectly alike. As a result, through random mutation and genetic drift, over time offspring develop new traits and characteristics. Over time beneficial traits and characteristics that promote survival will be kept in the gene pool while those that harm survival will be selected against. Therefore, this natural selection ensures that a species gradually improves itself over an extended duration of time. This idea of gradualism means that onlookers are unable to see great change in a short period because great changes are simply the culmination of the small changes that happen over long periods. This follows the prominent geological theories of the time put forward by James Hutton and Charles Lyell., who published the idea that the same processes that formed the Earth at the very beginning were the same that were happening in the present day. These "ancient" processes changed the Earth slowly and gradually, but the mechanism never changed.

One major holes in Darwin's theory revolves around “irreducibly complex systems.” An irreducibly complex system is known as a system where many different parts must all operate together. As a result, in the absence of one, the system as a whole collapses. Consequently, as modern technology improves, science can identify these “irreducibly complex systems” even at microscopic levels. These complex systems, if so inter-reliant, would be resistant to Darwin's supposition of how evolution occurs. As Darwin himself admitted, “To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivance for adjusting the focus for different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I free confess, absurd in the highest degree".

To answer questions about evolution, we normally look to the fossil record for answers. By examining what is written through fossils in the different layers of the earth, we can observe how species changed over time. Darwin claimed that proof of gradualism should be able to be found in “intermediate forms” in the fossil record. That is, modifications within a species should appear in small incremental stages. There is, however, an unavoidable complicating factor: the fossil record is incomplete. We do not have a comprehensive catalog of fossils at our disposal. Instead, there are gaps in the record, gaps which proponents of gradualism say account for the lack of extant transitional forms.

Of course, perhaps the lack of intermediate forms (in truth, the record does include some examples of transitional modifications) in the fossil record indicates a lack of transitional forms throughout history. In other words, perhaps gradualism is incorrect. In 1972 Stephen Jay Gould took the scientific world by storm with his paper on “punctuated equilibrium, written with Niles Eldredge. Challenging a core assumption of Darwin’s theory of evolution, it launched the career of one of the most influential evolutionary biologists of our time—perhaps the best known since Darwin. According to this hypothesis, adaptations within species occur quickly, in short bursts, after long periods of stasis. During such periods of stasis – the “equilibrium” of the name – little change occurs. Then, we see a rapid and dramatic variation, leading to a new species. Their hypothesis included the idea that such sudden changes typically occurred in relatively small and isolated populations within a given species, living on the periphery. These “geographical isolates,” as they put it, had advantageous morphological variations, and therefore greater success at reproduction. Subsequently, they spread through the range of the species from which they stemmed, replacing them.

It would appear that the fossil record supports this claim of bursts in evolution, as the records show little growth or evidence of continuous changes. Instead, we see sudden major changes, sometimes resulting in a whole new species. If fossil records were less scant, scientists who support gradualism might anticipate that fossils would show traces of adaptation each year. Yet, the imperfection of fossil records lends credence to punctuated equilibrium. But what do we observe in fossil records that are more reliable, in which we have many more representative examples throughout history?

Consider the series of trilobites and their segments that have been studied by Dr. Peter Sheldon of Cambridge University. The fossil records for these trilobites were constant, as a series of rock layers rich with fossils provides remains of several species of this extinct segmented marine animal. Sheldon’s study reviewed eight species of trilobites, finding that each species experienced a gradual increase in the number of segments. Over a span of three million years in evolution, Sheldon found that there were no bursts of change in the species. This would appear to give lie to punctuated equilibrium; however, Sheldon has admitted that the environmental conditions in which the trilobites lived remained relatively constant, which may account for the slow rate of change.

 
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