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Plant Fossils Passage
Fossil tree resin, commonly known as amber, hasthe ability to encase and preserve things for extensiveperiods of time. Researchers in Kaliningrad, Russia,have recently discovered fossilized carnivorous05plants for the first time. Encased in the varietyof amber commonly found in the Baltic region,leaves from these rare and interesting plants havebeen preserved for what scientists estimate to bebetween 35 and 47 million years.10Amber is often confused with sap because ofits sticky, liquid form. It is chemically different,though, and hardens to such an extent that it canimmaculately preserve what it encases. As a result,researchers often encounter insects and other15animals preserved in amber for long periods oftime. Considered a type of fossil, these findings areincredibly useful, as the animals found in amberare not usually found elsewhere in the fossil record.Plants, on the other hand, are rarely seen preserved20this way. This new discovery, along with amber-encased animals, provides scientists with a morecomprehensive view of life in earlier times.The newly discovered plant fossils are alsogroundbreaking for two more specific reasons:25They are the only fossilized carnivorous planttraps ever found, as well as the only fossilizedevidence of the plant family Roridulaceae. TheRoridulaceae plant has been seen only in seedform until now. While the seeds did offer scientists30valuable information, the trapping mechanism ofthe plant's leaves was left to conjecture. In thesenewly discovered fossils, the leaves of the plants arefully intact and contain organic animal matter thathad been captured in the leaves' tentacles when the35plant was living.Geologists and botanists in Germany publishedthese findings in the Proceedings of the NationalAcademy of Sciences, noting that the leaves looksimilar to a genus of carnivorous plants called40Roridula, which, until now, were considered endemicto Africa, where they still thrive. Unlike Venusflytraps, which are known to catch and dissolveinsects using a digestive mechanism, all Roridulaplants (and their newly discovered ancestor) absorb45nutrients secondhand through a symbiotic rela-tionship with an insect known as Pameridea. ThePameridea insect generates a greasy film, whichallows it to live on Roridula's leaves without beingensnared in the plant's tentacles. The insect then50captures and digests its prey while still on the leavesof the plant, and then passes nutrients to the plantthrough its feces. This way of ingesting nutrients isthe major link between this insect and theRoridulaceae family of plants.55The new fossil discovery in Russia completelychallenges the conclusions that scientists had previ-ously drawn about the paleobiogeography of thespecies. Roridulaceae was previously thought tooriginate from the prehistoric Pangaean supercon-60tinent called Gondwana, which included modern-day Africa, South America, India, Antarctica, andAustralia. However, recent findings suggest that theshared ancestors of these plant species had a muchwider distribution. Researchers will need to con-65tinue to search for plant matter preserved in amberto fill in more of the blanks in the fossil record.
1. The primary purpose of this passage is to
2. Based on the information in the passage, the reader can infer that the author
3. The author claims that animal fossils found in amber are important to scientists because they
4. Which choice provides the best support for the answer to the previous question?
5. As used in line 13, "immaculately" most nearly means
6. In line 7, the author uses the phrase "rare and interesting plants" to emphasize the importance of
7. It can reasonably be inferred from the passage that
8. Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?
9. According to information in the passage, the Pameridea insect is able to live on Roridula's leaves without being eaten by the plant because
10. As used in line 41, "thrive" most nearly means
11. Which choice best describes how the discovery of the ancestor of the Roridulaceae plant changed scientists' thinking?
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