TOEFL >> Reading >> In the reading part of the TOEFL exam, Passages require understanding of rhetorical functions such as cause-effect, compare-contrast and argumentation. Students answer questions about main ideas, details, inferences, essential information, sentence insertion, vocabulary, rhetorical purpose and overall ideas.

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TOEFL Reading - Worksheet 9

Read the passage and choose the best answer to each question.

1. What is the main topic of the passage?

  1. How the Spinolestes fossil was found.
  2. How Spinolestes' hair grew.
  3. The importance of the Spinolestes fossil to the understanding of how mammals developed.

2. Which of the following is NOT a reason that the Spinolestes fossil is important?

  1. The hairs and spines are the earliest-known examples of mammalian evoluntary history.
  2. It was found in 2011.
  3. The skin and hair structures are well preserved.

3. In the fourth paragraph, what is the meaning of the word "roughly"?

  1. ragged
  2. exactly
  3. approximately

4. In the fourth paragraph, what does the word "specimen" refer to?

  1. the fossil
  2. the hair and skin
  3. tiny spines

5. In the fifth paragraph, what is NOT the meaning of the word "fundamental"?

  1. crucial
  2. important
  3. inessential

6. What does the passage imply?

  1. Spinolestes is the first mammal.
  2. There may be mammals that lived at the time of or before Spinolestes.
  3. All mammals are descended from Spinolestes.

7. Where does the sentence -- "In addition, scientists were able to see an external ear lobe as well as the tissue of internal organs, including the liver and lung." -- best belong?

  1. at the end of the second paragraph
  2. at the end of the fourth paragraph
  3. at the beginning of the fourth paragraph

8. What is NOT a fact that supports the statement that the fossil is well preserved?

  1. The fossil was found at a site where many fossils have been found.
  2. Scientists can see that Spinolestes had a skin infection.
  3. The hair and skin structures can be seen in detail.

9. Where did Spinolestes live?

  1. in trees
  2. in water
  3. on the ground

10. How much do scientists believe that Spinolestes weighed?

  1. 50 to 70 grams
  2. 24 grams
  3. 30 grams

Fossilized ‘Hedgehog-like’ Creature May Be Earliest Mammal

A recently discovered fossil of a hedgehog-like creature may push back the date at which scientists believe mammals began to appear on Earth by more than 60 million years. The 125-million-year-old fossil, which was found in Spain, has what researchers say is the “earliest record of preserved mammalian hair structures and inner organs." The creature, which has been named Spinolestes xenarthrosus, is “remarkably intact" complete with guard hairs and hedgehog-like spines. A team of researchers from the Autonomous University of Madrid, University of Bonn and the University of Chicago said the hair and spines are the “earliest-known examples in mammalian evolutionary history."

"Spinolestes is a spectacular find. It is stunning to see almost perfectly preserved skin and hair structures fossilized in microscopic detail in such an old fossil," said study co-author Zhe-Xi Luo, professor of organismal biology and anatomy at the University of Chicago, in a statement. "This Cretaceous furball displays the entire structural diversity of modern mammalian skin and hairs."

The fossil was found in 2011 in an area of central Spain that was a lush wetland 125 million years ago. The site has been pored over by paleontologists for over 30 years, yielding hundreds of fossils.

Researchers said the animal was about 24 cm in length and weighed between 50 to 70 grams, making it roughly the size of a young rat. Its teeth and skeleton lead scientists to believe Spinolestes was a “ground dweller" that survived on a diet of bugs. Spinolestes’ hair and skin were similar to modern mammals, researchers said, noting that they saw multiple hairs formed from the same skin pore. It also has tiny spines on its back. The specimen was so well preserved that scientists were even able to see that it suffered from a fungal skin infection still suffered by modern day mammals.

"Hairs and hair-related integumentary structures are fundamental to the livelihood of mammals, and this fossil shows that an ancestral, long-extinct lineage had grown these structures in exactly the same way that modern mammals do," Luo said. "Spinolestes gives us a spectacular revelation about this central aspect of mammalian biology."

A study about Spinolestes appeared in the journal Nature.

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