New SAT Reading Practice Test 62: Spinosaurus Passage

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Spinosaurus Passage

At long last, paleontologists have solved a century-
old mystery, piecing together information discovered
by scientists from different times and places.
The mystery began when, in 1911, German
05paleontologist Ernst Stromer discovered the first evi-
dence of dinosaurs having lived in Egypt. Stromer,
who expected to encounter fossils of early mammals,
instead found bones that dated back to the Creta-
ceous period, some 97 to 112 million years prior.
10His finding consisted of three large bones, which
he preserved and transported back to Germany for
examination. After careful consideration, he
announced that he had discovered a new genus of
sauropod, or a large, four-legged herbivore with
15a long neck. He called the genus Aegyptosaurus,
which is Greek for Egyptian lizard. One of these
Aegyptosaurs, he claimed, was the Spinosaurus.
Tragically, the fossils that supported his claim were
destroyed during a raid on Munich by the Royal Air
20Force during World War II. The scientific world was
left with Stromer's notes and sketches, but no hard
evidence that the Spinosaurus ever existed.
It was not until 2008, when a cardboard box of
bones was delivered to paleontologist Nizar Ibrahim
25by a nomad in Morocco's Sahara desert, that a clue to
solving the mystery was revealed. Intrigued, Ibrahim
took the bones to a university in Casablanca for
further study. One specific bone struck him as in-
teresting, as it contained a red line coursing through
30it. The following year, Ibrahim and his colleagues at
Italy's Milan Natural History Museum were look-
ing at bones that resembled the ones delivered the
year before. An important clue was hidden in the
cross-section they were examining, as it contained
35the same red line Ibrahim had seen in Morocco.
Against all odds, the Italians were studying bones
that belonged to the very same skeleton as the bones
Ibrahim received in the desert. Together, these bones
make up the partial skeleton of the very first Spino-
40saurus that humans have been able to discover since
Stromer's fossils were destroyed.
Ibrahim and his colleagues published a study
describing the features of the dinosaur, which point
to the Spinosaurus being the first known swimming
45dinosaur. At 36 feet long, this particular Spinosaurus
had long front legs and short back legs, each with a
paddle-shaped foot and claws that suggest a carnivo-
rous diet. These features made the dinosaur a deft
swimmer and excellent hunter, able to prey on large
50river fish.
Scientists also discovered several aquatic adapta-
tions that made the Spinosaurus unique compared
to dinosaurs that lived on land but ate fish. Similar
to a crocodile, the Spinosaurus had a long snout,
55with nostrils positioned so that the dinosaur could
breathe while part of its head was submerged in wa-
ter. Unlike predatory land dinosaurs, the Spinosaur-
us had powerful front legs. The weight of these legs
would have made walking upright like a Tyranno-
60saurus Rex impossible, but in water, their strong legs
gave the Spinosaurus the power it needed to swim
quickly and hunt fiercely. Most notable, though, was
the discovery of the Spinosaurus's massive sail. Made
up of dorsal spines, the sail was mostly meant for
65display and did not serve a purpose of its own.
Ibrahim and his fellow researchers used both
modern digital modeling programs and Stromer's
basic sketches to create and mount a life-size replica
of the Spinosaurus skeleton. The sketches gave them
70a starting point, and by arranging and rearranging
the excavated fossils they had in their possession,
they were able to use technology to piece together
hypothetical bone structures until the mystery of
this semiaquatic dinosaur finally emerged from the
75murky depths of the past.

1. Which of the following best summarizes the central idea of this passage?

  • A. Paleontologists were able to identify a new species of dinosaur after overcoming a series of obstacles.
  • B. Most dinosaur fossils are found in pieces and must be reconstructed using the latest technology.
  • C. The first evidence of the Spinosaurus was uncovered by German paleontologist Ernst Stromer.
  • D. Fossils of an aquatic dinosaur called the Spinosaurus were first found in Egypt in the early twentieth century.

2. According to the passage, the fossils Stromer found in the Egyptian desert were

  • A. younger and smaller than he expected.
  • B. younger and larger than he expected.
  • C. older and smaller than he expected.
  • D. older and larger than he expected.

3. Based on the information in the passage, the author would most likely agree that

  • A. aquatic dinosaurs were more vicious than dinosaurs that lived on land.
  • B. too much emphasis is placed on creating realistic models of ancient dinosaurs.
  • C. most mysteries presented by randomly found fossils are unlikely to be solved.
  • D. the study of fossils and ancient life provides important scientific insights.

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

  • A. Lines 12-15 ("After careful … long neck")
  • B. Lines 18-22 ("Tragically, … ever existed")
  • C. Lines 42-45 ("Ibrahim … swimming dinosaur")
  • D. Lines 69-75 ("The sketches … past")

5. As used in line 36, the phrase "against all odds" most nearly means

  • A. by contrast.
  • B. at the exact same time.
  • C. to their dismay.
  • D. despite low probability.

6. The author uses the phrases "deft swimmer" and "excellent hunter" in lines 48-49 to

  • A. produce a clear visual image of the Spinosaurus.
  • B. show how the Spinosaurus searched for prey.
  • C. create an impression of a graceful but powerful animal.
  • D. emphasize the differences between aquatic and land dinosaurs.

7. The information presented in the passage strongly suggests that Ibrahim

  • A. chose to go into the field of paleontology after reading Stromer's work.
  • B. was familiar with Stromer's work when he found the fossils with the red lines.
  • C. did not have the proper training to solve the mystery of the Spinosaurus on his own.
  • D. went on to study other aquatic dinosaurs after completing his research on the Spinosaurus.

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

  • A. Lines 23-26 ("It was … revealed")
  • B. Lines 42-45 ("Ibrahim … swimming dinosaur")
  • C. Lines 51-53 ("Scientists … ate fish")
  • D. Lines 66-69 ("Ibrahim and his fellow researchers … skeleton")

9. As used in line 73, "hypothetical" most nearly means

  • A. imaginary.
  • B. actual.
  • C. possible.
  • D. interesting.

10. Based on the information in the passage, which statement best describes the relationship between Stromer's and Ibrahim's work with fossils?

  • A. Stromer's work was dependent on Ibrahim's work.
  • B. Stromer's work was contradicted by Ibrahim's work.
  • C. Ibrahim's work built on Stromer's work.
  • D. Ibrahim's work copied Stromer's work.

11. Which of the following is most similar to the methods used by Ibrahim to create a life-size replica of the Spinosaurus?

  • A. An architect using computer software and drawings to create a scale model of a building
  • B. A student building a model rocket from a kit in order to demonstrate propulsion
  • C. A doctor using a microscope to study microorganisms unable to be seen with the naked eye
  • D. A marine biologist creating an artificial reef in an aquarium to study fish