New SAT Reading Practice Test 32: Plant Fossils Passage

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Plant Fossils Passage

Fossil tree resin, commonly known as amber, has
the ability to encase and preserve things for extensive
periods of time. Researchers in Kaliningrad, Russia,
have recently discovered fossilized carnivorous
05plants for the first time. Encased in the variety
of amber commonly found in the Baltic region,
leaves from these rare and interesting plants have
been preserved for what scientists estimate to be
between 35 and 47 million years.
10Amber is often confused with sap because of
its sticky, liquid form. It is chemically different,
though, and hardens to such an extent that it can
immaculately preserve what it encases. As a result,
researchers often encounter insects and other
15animals preserved in amber for long periods of
time. Considered a type of fossil, these findings are
incredibly useful, as the animals found in amber
are not usually found elsewhere in the fossil record.
Plants, on the other hand, are rarely seen preserved
20this way. This new discovery, along with amber-
encased animals, provides scientists with a more
comprehensive view of life in earlier times.
The newly discovered plant fossils are also
groundbreaking for two more specific reasons:
25They are the only fossilized carnivorous plant
traps ever found, as well as the only fossilized
evidence of the plant family Roridulaceae. The
Roridulaceae plant has been seen only in seed
form until now. While the seeds did offer scientists
30valuable information, the trapping mechanism of
the plant's leaves was left to conjecture. In these
newly discovered fossils, the leaves of the plants are
fully intact and contain organic animal matter that
had been captured in the leaves' tentacles when the
35plant was living.
Geologists and botanists in Germany published
these findings in the Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences, noting that the leaves look
similar to a genus of carnivorous plants called
40Roridula, which, until now, were considered endemic
to Africa, where they still thrive. Unlike Venus
flytraps, which are known to catch and dissolve
insects using a digestive mechanism, all Roridula
plants (and their newly discovered ancestor) absorb
45nutrients secondhand through a symbiotic rela-
tionship with an insect known as Pameridea. The
Pameridea insect generates a greasy film, which
allows it to live on Roridula's leaves without being
ensnared in the plant's tentacles. The insect then
50captures and digests its prey while still on the leaves
of the plant, and then passes nutrients to the plant
through its feces. This way of ingesting nutrients is
the major link between this insect and the
Roridulaceae family of plants.
55The new fossil discovery in Russia completely
challenges the conclusions that scientists had previ-
ously drawn about the paleobiogeography of the
species. Roridulaceae was previously thought to
originate from the prehistoric Pangaean supercon-
60tinent called Gondwana, which included modern-
day Africa, South America, India, Antarctica, and
Australia. However, recent findings suggest that the
shared ancestors of these plant species had a much
wider distribution. Researchers will need to con-
65tinue to search for plant matter preserved in amber
to fill in more of the blanks in the fossil record.

1. The primary purpose of this passage is to

  • A. explain how scientists use new technology to explore old findings.
  • B. contrast the differences among various types of fossil tree resin.
  • C. inform the reader about new plant fossils discovered in amber.
  • D. encourage the reader to learn more about the plant fossil record.

2. Based on the information in the passage, the reader can infer that the author

  • A. was part of the research team that discovered the new fossils.
  • B. considers the discovery of the plant fossils in amber scientifically valuable.
  • C. thinks the conclusions drawn by the scientists in Germany are flawed.
  • D. does not expect scientists to find many more fossils in amber.

3. The author claims that animal fossils found in amber are important to scientists because they

  • A. are immaculately preserved samples of ancient life forms.
  • B. contain remains of life forms not otherwise found in the fossil record.
  • C. are easier to study than fossils found buried in rock formations.
  • D. contain DNA that resembles various types of animals living today.

4. Which choice provides the best support for the answer to the previous question?

  • A. Lines 5-9 ("Encased … million years")
  • B. Lines 11-13 ("It is chemically … encases")
  • C. Lines 16-18 ("Considered … record")
  • D. Lines 23-27 ("The newly discovered … Roridulaceae")

5. As used in line 13, "immaculately" most nearly means

  • A. correctly.
  • B. innocently.
  • C. perfectly.
  • D. purely.

6. In line 7, the author uses the phrase "rare and interesting plants" to emphasize the importance of

  • A. the discovery of the fossilized carnivorous plants.
  • B. the study of paleontology and geology.
  • C. the preservation of the existing fossil record.
  • D. the continued exploration in the Baltic region.

7. It can reasonably be inferred from the passage that

  • A. scientists will begin to find Roridula plants in warm regions outside of Africa.
  • B. future discoveries could change current theories about plant evolution.
  • C. plants fossilized in amber can only be found in the Baltic region of Russia.
  • D. the Venus flytrap is the only plant with a symbiotic relationship with insects.

8. Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?

  • A. Lines 36-41 ("Geologists … thrive")
  • B. Lines 43-46 ("all Roridula … Pameridea")
  • C. Lines 55-58 ("The new fossil … species")
  • D. Lines 58-64 ("Roridulaceae was … distribution")

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

  • A. the insect secretes a substance that prevents it from getting caught in the plant's tentacles.
  • B. the plant does not need to eat the insect because it gets its energy from photosynthesis.
  • C. the insect does not stay on the plant's leaves long enough to get caught in its sticky leaves.
  • D. the plant only ingests insects that have already died and begun to decompose.

10. As used in line 41, "thrive" most nearly means

  • A. advance.
  • B. develop.
  • C. flourish.
  • D. succeed.

11. Which choice best describes how the discovery of the ancestor of the Roridulaceae plant changed scientists' thinking?

  • A. They realized that the fossilized plants are more closely related to the Venus flytrap than previously thought.
  • B. They realized that the fossilized plants did not have a symbiotic relationship with the Pameridea insect.
  • C. They realized that the fossilized plants ingested insects directly rather than secondhand like modern Roridula plants.
  • D. They realized that the Roridulaceae plant family was more widely distributed than previously believed.