KA WORDCAST: Listen and Learn LESSON EIGHTEEN: A Mammoth Effort

Listen to KA Wordcast:  Listen and Learn

LESSON EIGHTEEN HERE!

LIKE us on FACEBOOK!

In today’s lesson, entitled A Mammoth Effort, you will be listening to a passage about the possibility of resurrecting animals that have long been extinct using modern advanced science and technology. Listen carefully to the passage and then answer the questions that follow. It’s always a good idea to take notes as you listen, but remember: don’t let your note-taking distract you from your listening

 

woolly mammothA Mammoth Effort

Listen and Learn

Lesson Eighteen PASSAGE ONLY track: 

            

             Michael Crichton’s 1990 science-fiction bestseller Jurassic Park was awesome, in the truest sense of the word—its ingenious idea inspired awe. And then came Steven Spielberg’s movie version in 1997, which was nothing short of fantastic (and the latest sequel, Jurassic World, carries on the tradition). The novel and the films it spawned featured genetically recreated (and, in the movies, computer-generated and eerily lifelike) dinosaurs that thrashed around a tropical island terrorizing present-day humans. To bring these long-extinct creatures back to life, Crichton’s fictional scientists had extracted dinosaur blood from fossilized mosquitoes, filled in gaps in the DNA with frog DNA, and then fertilized the eggs of modern crocodiles.   As far-fetched as this sounds, “de-extinction,” or recreating species that vanished long ago, isn’t completely beyond the realm of possibility. So, does that mean that one day we may be able to visit a real-life Jurassic wildlife reserve, just as we can now go the San Diego Zoo? Will we actually be able to observe velociraptors as they stalk prey in an electrified enclosure? Could we really come face to face with a T-Rex?

            Nope! Even if scientists were to develop the technology and by chance came across enough dinosaur blood trapped in fossilized insects, it couldn’t happen: the cells would simply be too old and disintegrated.   In fact, any hope of reanimating a dinosaur faded recently when researchers at Western Australia’s Murdoch University found that the longest DNA can survive is 6.3 million years. And while scientists have successfully recovered DNA from species that became extinct tens of thousands of years ago, most dinosaurs disappeared about 65 million years in the past—missing that cut-off date by a long shot.

            But other species, especially those that died out in the past 12,000 years, may stand a chance of being resurrected. Scientists involved in “Revive and Restore” projects around the world claim that it’s only a matter of a few short years before they’ll have the necessary technology to accomplish such a feat.   Several extinct species, including the Tasmanian tiger, passenger pigeon, Steller’s sea cow, and the iconic dodo bird, have been identified as possible “de-extinction” candidates. But perhaps the most intriguing is the woolly mammoth, the elephant’s shaggy ancestor that roamed the cold, dry arctic regions of Europe and North America during the last Ice Age.

            For discussion’s sake, let’s say that scientists do manage to clone a woolly mammoth. There it is standing in the lab. Awesome! Fantastic! The question is: Where in the world would it live? Its natural habitat no longer exists. The last Ice Age ended some 11,700 years ago, and the mammoth’s old stomping grounds now have a very different landscape. The plants that mammoths lived on disappeared as the earth warmed, and today’s vegetation may not agree with them. Thus, with nothing good to eat, our lab specimen would likely starve to death. Furthermore, mammoths, like today’s Asian elephant, were social animals that lived in large herds.   It would be unethical and hugely irresponsible (not to mention unkind) to clone just one specimen.   So we would have to give our “new” mammoth company (like Adam’s Eve) and create a whole herd.   Where would they all live?

            “Trying to replicate the Ice Age to bring back a species that no longer has a place in the world doesn’t make much sense,” says Brian Switek of National Geographic magazine. “Conjuring extinct species back to life will require a great deal of care, planning, and management.” Which begs the question: Is reviving the “long-dead” mammoth really worth the trouble.   Today, there are thousands of animals on the endangered species list. Wouldn’t it be wiser for us to focus our efforts and money on saving our “living” fellow creatures (including elephants themselves) from extinction? Wouldn’t we be better off just leaving “de-extinction” to people like Crichton and Spielberg?

***

LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS

 Listen to Listen and Learn Lesson Eighteen LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS track:

 

Today’s listening comprehension questions will be MULTIPLE CHOICE or TRUE-FALSE and based on FACTUAL CONTENT and LOGICAL INFERENCE. Listen to each question carefully and mark your answer. Feel free to pause the recording if you need a moment or two to think about the question.

 

  1. The latest sequel to Steven Spielberg’s movie Jurassic Park is titled

a) Jurassic Park 2

b) Jurassic Park: The Sequel

c) Jurassic World

d) Jurassic Disaster

 

  1. Decide if this statement is true or false.

In the original Jurassic Park novel by Michael Crichton, scientists were able to recreate dinosaurs by extracting DNA from fossilized dinosaur bones.

a) TRUE

b) FALSE

 

  1. According to the passage, even if scientists discovered dinosaur blood trapped in insects, dinosaurs could not be recreated because

a) the cells would be too old and disintegrated.

b) the blood would be too dry for scientists to be able to extract DNA samples.

c) the de-extinction of animals that have been extinct for more than six million years is prohibited by law.

d) there are no living species from which the missing gaps in the DNA could be filled.

 

  1. Decide if this statement is true or false.

Researchers at Australia’s Murdoch University have found that the longest DNA could survive is 6.3 million years.

a) TRUE

b) FALSE

 

  1. According to the passage, scientists have successfully recovered DNA from species

a) that became extinct more than six million years ago.

b) that became extinct tens of thousands of years ago.

c) that became extinct just a few hundred years ago.

d) that roamed the earth at the same time as the dinosaurs.

 

  1. Decide if this statement is true or false.

Scientists involved in “Revive and Restore” projects claim that in a few short years, they will have the necessary technology to resurrect extinct animal species.

a) TRUE

b) FALSE

 

  1. Which extinct animal on the list of possible candidates for de-extinction below is described as “iconic”?

a) The woolly mammoth.

b) The Tasmanian tiger.

c) The passenger pigeon.

d) The dodo bird.

 

  1. Decide if this statement is true or false.

The woolly mammoth roamed the cold, dry regions of the Antarctic during the last Ice Age.

a) TRUE

b) FALSE

 

  1. If scientists were to successfully clone a woolly mammoth, what is the most likely reason the specimen wouldn’t survive very long?

a) The mammoth wouldn’t be able to protect itself against its new natural enemies.

b) Without a living companion, the clone would die of loneliness and heartbreak, because woolly mammoths were social animals.

c) The plants the mammoth lived on no longer exist, so there wouldn’t be any food for it to eat.

d) The animal would not have the immunity to fight infectious animal diseases found in today’s world.

 

  1. Decide if this statement is true or false.

Brian Switek of National Geographic magazine believes that replicating the Ice Age to bring back a species that no longer exists doesn’t make sense.

a) TRUE

b) FALSE

 

 

***

Now that you have completed today’s listening comprehension exercise, it’s time to check your answers and see how well you did. The correct answers will follow immediately after the closing jingle, so stay tuned. Answers are also available on the KA Wordcast website as a separate track. You can also download the lesson in PDF format and keep it for your reference. And be sure to listen to the Key Vocabulary bonus track. This will improve your understanding of the passage itself and give you a bigger, better active vocabulary.

LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS and ANSWERS HERE!:

You may also download the lesson in PDF format to keep for your reference.

PDF DOWNLOAD: KA WORDCAST Listen and Learn Lesson Eighteen A MAMMOTH EFFORT

***

 

KA WORDCAST: Listen and Learn! Lesson EIGHTEEN

KEY VOCABULARY WORDS

Be sure to listen to the Key Vocabulary bonus track. This will help you improve your understanding of the passage itself and give your vocabulary a big boost.

 

Alfredo Moser's INGENIOUS way of lighting up houses.

Alfredo Moser’s INGENIOUS way of lighting up houses.

1. INGENIOUS

Michael Crichton’s 1990 science-fiction bestseller Jurassic Park was awesome, in the truest sense of the word—its INGENIOUS idea inspired awe.

When talking about a plan, object, or idea, as in the example above, INGENIOUS is an adjective that means clever, original, and inventive. An INGENIOUS person is intelligent and creative.

Often considered one of the most INGENIOUS writers of our time, Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling’s ideas about friendship, kindness, and goodness are generally irreproachable.

The Cyclee is an INGENIOUS new device that makes nighttime road cycling safer by projecting illuminated warning signs onto the rider’s back.  

In my opinion, the new movie Inside Out is INGENIOUS, giving audiences an intimate peek inside the mind of an adolescent girl.

Of all my pupils, Terri-Anne is the most INGENIOUS when it comes to making up excuses about why she didn’t do her homework.

In 2002, Brazilian mechanic Alfredo Moser came up with an INGENIOUS way of lighting his house without electricity by using nothing more than plastic bottles filled with water and a tiny bit of bleach.

 

The EERILY life-like dinosaurs of Jurassic Park.

The EERILY life-like dinosaurs of Jurassic Park.

2. EERILY

The novel and the films it spawned featured genetically recreated (and, in the movies, computer-generated and EERILY lifelike) dinosaurs that thrashed around a tropical island terrorizing present-day humans.

In the sentence above, EERILY is the adverb form of the adjective EERIE, which means strange, mysterious, or frightening.   Some synonyms for EERILY as used in the example include frighteningly, curiously, and spine-chillingly.

The wax figures on display at Madame Tussaud’s in London are too EERILY lifelike for my taste.

After hurricane warnings were issued, the city’s streets were EERILY empty and quiet as people sought refuge in their homes.

In the hours following the earthquake, live webcams showed an EERILY deserted Shibuya crossing that is normally teeming with people twenty-four hours a day.

There’s a boy in my daughter’s kindergarten class who looks EERILY like my grandfather who passed away many years ago.

You probably won’t believe me, but there was an EERIE orange glow coming from the woods behind our house last night.

Visitors on the “City of the Dead” tour will be taken to Edinburgh’s EERIE underground vaults and graveyards.

 

A paleontologist EXTRACTING  a dinosaur fossil.

A paleontologist EXTRACTING a dinosaur fossil.

3. EXTRACT

To bring these long-extinct creatures back to life, Crichton’s scientists had EXTRACTED dinosaur blood from fossilized mosquitoes, filled in gaps in the DNA with frog DNA, and then fertilized the eggs of modern crocodiles.

EXTRACT is a verb that means to remove or get some kind of substance from something by using a tool or chemical process. To obtain and take out are the nearest synonyms.

During the hot, humid, summer months, to keep your books and documents from wilting, you’ll need a de-humidifier that EXTRACTS moisture from the air.  

I usually have a high tolerance for pain, but having my wisdom tooth EXTRACTED was almost unbearable.

It took surgeons three hours to EXTRACT the nail that had penetrated the patient’s hand after he had accidentally shot himself with a nail gun.

You can also EXTRACT information, money, and so on by taking it (usually by force or cunning) from someone who is unwilling or reluctant to give it to you.

Tabloid journalists are frequently criticized for the unethical way they EXTRACT information from former acquaintances and staff members about celebrities’ private lives.  

He can try, but Tom won’t be EXTRACTING any more money from me. He’s taken advantage of my generosity too many times already.

EXTRACT also means to choose specific information from a book or other source and use it for a particular purpose. Excerpt is a close equivalent.

The short story featured in this month’s Young Reader’s magazine was EXTRACTED from the author’s latest novel.

Vanilla EXTRACT

Vanilla EXTRACT

EXTRACT is also a noun that refers to the substance that is EXTRACTED from something else, as in:

If you are having trouble getting your child to drink milk, you can always try adding a little bit of vanilla EXTRACT or honey to it.

Grape seed EXTRACT is sold as a nutritional supplement and can be purchased at most health- food stores.

An EXTRACT is a short passage from a book (or other written material) that gives you an idea of what the rest of the book is about. Excerpt, passage, and snippet (informal) are some near synonyms.

The following EXTRACT was taken from Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Read the passage carefully and answer the questions that follow.

 

An airplane DISINTEGRATING in mid-air.

An airplane DISINTEGRATING in mid-air.

4. DISINTEGRATED

Even if scientists were to develop the technology and by chance came across enough dinosaur blood trapped in fossilized insects, it couldn’t happen: the cells would simply be too old and DISINTEGRATED.

In the passage, DISINTEGRATED is an adjective that describes something that has fallen apart or broken up. It is close in meaning to fragmented, shattered, or destroyed. As a verb, DISINTEGRATE means to break up into small parts or pieces and be destroyed. Some synonyms include fall apart, fragment, and crumble.

The students watched in horror as the space shuttle with their old teacher aboard blew up and DISINTEGRATED a few minutes after launch.

Students’ interest in the teacher’s lecture DISINTEGRATED when he started ranting on about the “good old days” when kids had no smart phones.

“When cooking seafood in a soup or stew, be sure to stir gently so that the pieces don’t DISINTEGRATE,” my home economics teacher used to tell us, and I’ve never forgotten it.

Satellite images of Antarctica’s massive ice shelves revealed that the ice is weakening and will most likely DISINTEGRATE in the next few years.

Some analysts believe that Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 fell vertically into the Indian Ocean and DISINTEGRATED on impact.

DISINTEGRATE also means to lose strength or become less united, leading to cancellation or destruction.

The school’s strict dress code DISINTEGRATED one day when every student wore jeans and T-shirts to class, and they all refused to go home as the principal ordered.

Recent studies show that the Church of England could DISINTEGRATE in the next twenty years unless people become more actively involved with the church.

Neil and Amanda’s marriage DISINTEGRATED after their youngest child graduated from college and moved out.

 

Dwarf planet Ceres's INTRIGUING pyramid.

Dwarf planet Ceres’s INTRIGUING pyramid.

5. INTRIGUING

But perhaps the most INTRIGUING is the woolly mammoth, the elephant’s shaggy ancestor that roamed the cold, dry arctic regions of Europe and North America during the last Ice Age.

Something that is INTRIGUING is highly interesting, fascinating, or captivating, because it is so unusual or innovative or unconventional.

I’ll be the first to admit that these days, I find teen fiction more INTRIGUING than most fiction for adults.

The highly acclaimed film The Wolf of Wall Street is an INTRIGUING but crazed look at the world of high-power finance.

New images taken by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft show an INTRIGUING, pyramid-shaped peak protruding from the surface of the dwarf planet Ceres.

The possibility of our becoming a carbon-emission-free world is an INTRIGUING vision, the realization of which will depend on alternative-energy innovation.

INTRIGUED is another adjective form that describes a person who is highly interested in something or someone.

The teachers at our school were INTRIGUED with the idea of establishing a foreign exchange student program with our sister school in Tokyo.

I wasn’t enjoying the movie at first, but after the main character started time traveling, I was INTRIGUED enough to finish watching it.

The children seemed quite INTRIGUED by the story of how their grandmother used to walk two miles to school in the snow during the long, cold winters of Hokkaido.

The verb INTRIGUE means to make someone interested in and want to know more about something.

When choosing your topic for your Year 6 project, choose something that INTRIGUES you yourself.

The little that you’ve told me so far has really INTRIGUED me.  I would love to hear all about your backpacking trip through India. 

INTRIGUE is also a noun. (Note the slight intonation change.) INTRIGUE refers to the feeling or atmosphere of mystery that surrounds a secret or something that is important.

John le Carre’s bestselling and highly acclaimed novels about George Smiley examine the world of danger and INTRIGUE that spies on both sides of the Cold War lived in. 

 

What tasty dish can you CONJURE using just these ingredients?

What tasty dish can you CONJURE using just these ingredients?

6. CONJURE

“CONJURING extinct species back to life will require a great deal of care, planning, and management.”

In the sentence above, CONJURE is a verb that means to make something appear either out of nowhere or unexpectedly. Produce and generate are the nearest synonyms for this usage.

In the cook-off challenge, contestants were instructed to CONJURE a three-course meal using only the twelve ingredients found in the box.

I can always count on my mom to CONJURE a creative Halloween costume for me every year.

The verb CONJURE is often associated with magic and witchcraft. It means to cause something to appear by reciting magic spells or by performing a magical ritual or sleight-of-hand trick.

Hayden learned how to CONJURE coins from behind people’s ears by watching tutorials on YouTube.

Have you seen the episode of “Dynamo: Magician Impossible” when he CONJURED live butterflies out of paper cutouts? How on earth did he do that?

Finally, when you CONJURE something UP, you call up an image in your mind, or make someone else think of or imagine something. Bring to mind, call to mind, and recall are some near synonyms.

The history teacher’s description of the world’s first hot-air balloon flight was so detailed that it CONJURED up the scene almost perfectly in his students’ imaginations.

For me, that song always CONJURES up childhood memories of summer days spent on the beach near my grandmother’s house.

Ten years on, I can still CONJURE up the faces of my former classmates, but for the life of me, I can’t remember many of their names.

 

***

PDF DOWNLOAD: KA WORDCAST Listen and Learn Lesson Eighteen KEY VOCABULARY WORDS