READING PASSAGE 2
You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 14-26, which are based on Reading Passage 2 below.
The evolutional mystery: Crocodile survives
A. Crocodiles have been around for 200 million years, but they are certainly not primitive. The early forms of crocodiles are known as Crocodilian. Since they spent most of their life beneath water, accordingly their body adapted to an aquatic lifestyle. [Crack IELTS with Rob] Due to the changes formed within their body shape and tendency to adapt according to the climate they were able to survive when most of the reptiles of their period are just a part of history. In their tenure on Earth, they’ve endured the impacts of meteors, planetary refrigeration, extreme upheavals of the Earth’s tectonic surface and profound climate change. They were around for the rise and fall of the dinosaurs, and even 65 million years of supposed mammalian dominance has failed to loosen their grip on the environments they inhabit. Today’s crocodiles and alligators are little changed from their prehistoric ancestors, a telling clue that these reptiles were (and remain) extremely well adapted to their environment.
B. The first crocodile-like ancestors appeared about 230 million years ago, with many of the features that make crocs such successful stealth hunters already in place: streamlined body, long tail, protective armour and long jaws. [Crack IELTS with Rob] They have a long head and a long tail that helps them to change their direction in water while moving. They have four legs which are short and are webbed. Never underestimate their ability to move on ground. When they move they can move at such a speed that won’t give you a second chance to make a mistake by going close to them especially when hungry. They can lift their whole body within seconds from ground. The fastest way by which most species can move is a sort of “belly run”, where the body moves like a snake, members huddled to the side paddling away frenetically while the tail whips back and forth. When “belly running” Crocodiles can reach speeds up to 10 or 11 km/h (about 7mph), and often faster if they are sliding down muddy banks. Other form of movement is their “high walk”, where the body is elevated above the ground.
C. Crocodilians have no lips. When submerged in their classic ‘sit and wait’ position, their mouths fill with water. The nostrils on the tip of the elongated snout lead into canals that run through bone to open behind the valve – allowing the crocodilian to breathe through its nostrils even though its mouth is under-water. [Crack IELTS with Rob] When the animal is totally submerged, another valve seals the nostrils, so the crocodilian can open its mouth to catch prey with no fear of drowning. The thin skin on the crocodilian head and face is covered with tiny, pigmented domes, forming a network of neural pressure receptors that can detect barely perceptible vibrations in the water. This enables a crocodile lying in silent darkness to suddenly throw its head sideways and grasp with deadly accuracy small prey moving close by.
D. Like other reptiles, crocodiles are endothermic animals (cold-blooded, or whose body temperature varies with the temperature of the surrounding environment) and, therefore, need to sunbathe, to raise the temperature of the body. On the contrary, if it is too hot, they prefer being in water or in the shade. [Crack IELTS with Rob] Being a cold-blooded species, the crocodilian heart is unique in having an actively controlled valve that can redirect, at will, blood flow away from the lungs and recirculate it around the body, taking oxygen to where it’s needed most. In addition, their metabolism is a very slow one, so, they can survive for long periods without feeding. Crocodiles are capable of slowing their metabolism even further allowing them to survive for a full year without feeding. Compared to mammals and birds, crocodilians have slow metabolisms that burn much less fuel, and are ideally suited to relatively unstable environments that would defeat mammals with their high food demands.
E. Crocodiles use a very effective technique to catch the prey. The prey remains almost unaware of the fact that there can be any crocodile beneath water. It is due to the fact that when the crocodile sees its prey it moves underwater without making any noise and significant movement. [Crack IELTS with Rob] It keeps only its eyes above water surface. When it feels it has reached sufficiently close to the target it whistles out of water with wide-open jaws. 80 percent of their attempts are successful. They have very powerful jaws. Once the prey trapped in its jaws they swallow it. Their power can be judged from the fact they can kill the wild zebras which come to watery areas in search of water. They do not chew their food. They normally feed on small animals, big fish, birds and even human flesh. As like some water creatures that interact by making sounds crocodiles also use many sounds to communicate with other crocodiles. They exist where conditions have remained the same and they are free of human interference. The crocodile is successful because it switches its feeding methods. It hunts fish, grabs birds at the surface, hides among the water edge vegetation to wait for a gazelle to come by, and when there is a chance for an ambush, the crocodile lunges forward, knocks the animal with its powerful tail and then drags it to water where it quickly drowns. Another way is to wait motionless for an animal to come to the water’s edge and grabs it by its nose where it is held to drown.
F. In many places inhabited by crocodilians, the hot season brings drought that dries up their hunting grounds and takes away the means to regulate their body temperature. They allowed reptiles to dominate the terrestrial environment. Furthermore, many crocs protect themselves from this by digging burrows and entombing themselves in mud, waiting for months without access to food or water, until the rains arrive. [Crack IELTS with Rob] To do this, they sink into a quiescent state called aestivation.
G. Most of (at least nine species of) crocodilians are thought to aestivate during dry periods. Kennett and Christian’s six-year study of Australian freshwater crocodiles – Crocodylus johnstoni (the King Crocodiles). The crocodiles spent almost four months a year underground without access to water. [Crack IELTS with Rob] Doubly labeled water was used to measure field metabolic rates and water flux, and plasma (and cloacal fluid samples were taken at approximately monthly intervals during some years to monitor the effects of aestivation with respect to the accumulation of nitrogenous wastes and electrolyte concentrations. Double found that the crocodiles’ metabolic engines tick over, producing waste and using up water and fat reserves. Waste products are stored in the urine, which gets increasingly concentrated as the months pass. However, the concentration of waste products in the blood changes very little, allowing the crocodiles to function normally. Furthermore, though the animals lost water and body mass (just over one-tenth of their initial mass) while underground, the losses were proportional: on emergence, the aestivating crocodiles were not dehydrated and exhibited no other detrimental effects such as a decreased growth rate. Kennett and Christian believe this ability of individuals to sit out the bad times and endure long periods of enforced starvation must surely be key to the survival of the crocodilian line through time.
Questions 14 - 20
Reading passage 2 has seven paragraphs, A-G.
Choose the correct heading for paragraphs A-G from the list below.
Write the correct number, i-xi, in boxes 14-20 on your answer sheet.
List of Headings
i The competitors with the dinosaur
ii A historical event for the Supreme survivors
iii What makes the crocodile the fastest running animal on land
iv Regulated body temperature by the surrounding environment
v Underwater aid in body structure offered to a successful predator
vi The perfectly designed body for a great land roamer
vii Slow metabolisms which make crocodile a unique reptile
viii The favorable features in the impact of a drought
ix Shifting Eating habits and food intake
x A project on a special mechanism
xi A unique findings has been achieved recently
14. Paragraph Aii
15. Paragraph Bvi
16. Paragraph Cv
17. Paragraph Div
18. Paragraph Eix
19. Paragraph Fviii
20. Paragraph Gx
Questions 21 - 26
Complete the summary below.
Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER from Reading Passage 2 for each answer.
Write the correct answers in boxes 21-26 on your answer sheet.
In many places inhabited by crocodilians, most types of the crocodile have evolved a successful scheme to survive in the drought brought by a (21) .DRY SEASON
According to Kennett and Christian’s six-year study of Australian freshwater crocodiles’ aestivation, they found Aestivating crocodiles spent around (22) a yearFOUR MONTHS
without access to (23) .WATER
The absolute size of body water pools declined proportionately with (24) ;BODY MASS
thus there is no sign of (25) and other health-damaging impacts in the crocodiles even after an aestivation period.DEHYDRATION
This super capacity helps crocodiles endure the tough drought without slowing their speed of (26) significantly.GROWTH