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Entrance exam season is right around the corner, and we’re here to make sure you are 100 percent ready for it. For the next several weeks, we will be providing you with additional listening material that you can use to practice and improve your aural comprehension skills.
Each week, you will listen to a short passage on a different topic—one that is interesting and useful in its own right, but one that is also the type of topic test-makers love to include on their exams. Then, after listening to the passage, you will answer ten comprehension questions. Before we listen to today’s passage, Jigsaw Puzzle Discovery, here are a few tips:
- It goes without saying that you should always listen to the passage carefully. Give it your undivided attention. That means: no outside distractions. (A passage-only track is available on the KA Wordcast website so you can listen to the passage a second or third time.)
- You can make brief notes of key points and details, but don’t let your note taking distract you from your listening.
- Key vocabulary words are explained in the bonus track. Each key word is clearly defined and accompanied by common synonyms and antonyms as well as sample sentences that show you how the word is used, and how to use it. What better way to augment your active vocabulary!
- The comprehension questions “test” three general areas: FACTUAL CONTENT, LOGICAL INFERENCE, and PERSONAL JUDGMENT. (These are explained on the website and are available to download.) The questions come in three different types or formats: MULTIPLE CHOICE, TRUE OR FALSE, and SHORT ANSWER. The question format will vary, so be sure to listen to the instructions carefully before you answer the questions.
Jigsaw Puzzle Discovery
Listen to Listen Up! Lesson FOURTEEN: PASSAGE ONLY TRACK
In the classic 1993 thriller Jurassic Park, scores of awesomely lifelike dinosaurs terrified moviegoers worldwide. The computer-generated creatures were all anatomically correct, based on models created from fossil evidence. But Deinocheirus mirificus, which is Greek for “terrible hands that look peculiar,” wasn’t one of the film’s fearsome stars. That’s because in 1993, no one knew what the dinosaur looked like. The only Deinocheirus fossils that scientists then possessed were of its eight-foot-long arms and a few bone fragments. Paleontologists had dug these up back in 1965 in a 70-million-year-old Mongolian rock quarry. The arms’ size and shape suggested that they belonged to a predator similar to the Tyrannosaurus Rex, only bigger. But just how similar, and how much bigger? And was Deinocheirus a carnivore, herbivore, or omnivore? The only way to solve the puzzle was to find more pieces.
So researchers kept digging … and digging. Finally, in 2006 and 2009, their persistence paid off when a team led by Dr. Yuong-Nam Lee of Korea located two additional specimens. Though damaged, the newly found bones were more complete and hinted at answers to questions scientists had been pondering for over 40 years. For one thing, they confirmed that the Deinocheirus was enormous, stretching nearly 40 feet long, standing over 16 feet tall—making it one of the tallest bipedal dinosaurs ever found—and weighing over six tons. It also had a sail-like hump in its backbone—like a turkey’s or peacock’s. And “gastroliths”—small stones that birds and other plant eaters use to help them grind up their food—were found in the fossilized remains of the dinosaur’s stomach contents. But the stomach also contained fish bones, indicating that Deinocheirus probably ate whatever plant or animal it could gulp down.
But for a simple reason, scientists still could still only hypothesize about the dinosaur’s appearance: prior to the paleontological team’s arrival at the quarry, fossil poachers had plundered the excavation site and carted off the dinosaur’s hands, feet, and skull. And without the skull, Deinocheirus’s portrait would always be incomplete.
Then, in 2011, Philip Currie, a member of Dr. Lee’s research team, got a call from a Belgian scientist. “There’s a fossil shop here that’s got a weird skull, part of a hand, and a couple of feet,” he told Currie. Currie hopped on a plane immediately, and what he found in Belgium was a miracle. Comparison studies showed that the fossils in the shop were the missing parts of the specimen uncovered in the quarry. The final pieces of the puzzle had been found.
“Deinocheirus is even more bizarre than we could ever possibly have imagined,” said Currie. “It had a three-foot-long head and a huge bill like a duck’s, with no teeth in it! ” Tom Holz, a University of Maryland paleontologist, calls the dinosaur a “weird sort of ostrich camel … like something designed by a committee—a committee of kids. Some day,” he told NPR, “some kid out there is going to say that this is his or her favorite dinosaur—and that’s a kid with a sense of humor.”
Today’s questions will be MULTIPLE CHOICE and based on FACTUAL CONTENT, LOGICAL INFERENCE, and your understanding of key vocabulary words.
Listening comprehension questions fall into three main types or areas to be tested, as explained below:
- The answer is specifically stated as a detail in the text.
If the text reads, “John Birks Gillespie was born in 1917 in Cheraw, South Carolina,” you might be asked where Gillespie was born or in which year was he born.
- The answer may not be directly stated in the text, but can be understood or inferred from the details given. A direct hint may be given, from which you would have to work out the most logical answer (usually based on a MULTIPLE CHOICE or TRUE OR FALSE question).
For example, if the text describes a “hot and muggy afternoon,” you might be asked what season it is. If the text reads, “In 1872, an abandoned railroad track in the mountains of Pennsylvania became the first roller coaster ride in America,” you may be asked a question like:
“The railroad tracks …
- were made of poor quality steel.
- had not been used for a while.
- were dug up and replaced with roller-coaster tracks.
- were too damaged to use.
You must use the hints given in the passage to work out the most likely answer. In this case, the answer, based on “hot and muggy,” to the first question would be “summer,” and the answer to the second question would be B, with the hint being the word “abandoned.”
- The answer is not directly stated in the text and you might have to read more deeply or “between the lines.”
You may be asked to describe a character’s feelings, reactions, or intentions. For example, if the question is, “How do you know Joanna felt sad on the last day of school?” you would have to find evidence in the descriptive language the author uses. Perhaps Joanna had tears on her cheeks, or she was walking with her head hanging low, or perhaps she had a frown on her face.
Listen to the question carefully and write your answer. Feel free to pause the recording if you need a moment or two to think about the question.
LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS
1. The computer-generated dinosaurs featured in Jurassic Park were anatomically correct based on models created from fossil evidence. This implies that
a) graphic designers were forced to speculate and use their imagination to recreate the dinosaurs.
b) the movies dinosaurs’ physical structure and appearance were as close as possible to that of real dinosaurs.
c) the movie’s dinosaurs’ size and features were greatly exaggerated to make them more terrifying.
d) the movie’s dinosaurs were created by adding real flesh and skin to fossils found in museums.
2. Why wasn’t Deinocheirus mirificus featured in Jurassic Park?
a) Because it was too fearsome a creature to be shown to young movie viewers.
b) Because it did not exist during the Jurassic period.
c) Because paleontologists did not know what it looked like.
d) Because paleontologists only dug up the first Deinocheirus fossils after the movie was made.
3. Prior to 2006, why did paleontologists believe that the Deinocheirus was a predator?
a) The size and shape of the creature’s arms suggested that it was.
b) Because only predatory dinosaurs lived in that particular area of Mongolia.
c) Because an animal that large could only be a predator.
d) Because it looked exactly like the fearsome predator, Tyrannosaurus Rex.
4. When the article states that in 2006 and 2009 a team of scientists located two additional specimens, it can be inferred that
a) they found four Deinocheirus fossils in total.
b) they found two different fossils that came from the same dinosaur.
c) the two bone fragments were found in different locations.
d) the fossilized remains came from two different dinosaur species.
5. In 2006 and 2009, what did the additional fossils confirm about Deinocheirus?
a) That it had lived 70 million years ago.
b) That it used its eight-foot-long arms for protection.
c) That it was enormous—one of the tallest bipedal dinosaurs ever found.
d) That it was stronger and much more fearsome than Tyrannosaurus Rex.
6. Which of these is strongly suggested about Deinocheirus’s eating habits?
a) It was an omnivore.
b) It was a strict herbivore.
c) It used the hump on its back to grind its food.
d) It preferred fish to plants.
7. Why was the Deinocheirus found by Dr. Lee’s team missing its skull, hands, and feet?
a) Those parts had probably been eaten by predatory animals.
b) The excavation site had been damaged by construction workers.
c) Early man had used the bones to make tools.
d) Fossil poachers had looted the excavation site and removed those parts.
8. A more complete Deinocheirus fossil that included a skull was needed to help paleontologists
a) learn why the dinosaur became extinct.
b) discover more about what other species of dinosaurs that lived 70 million years ago.
c) learn whether Deinocheirus had feathers and could fly.
d) complete the picture of what Deinocheirus looked like.
9. Which of these can be reasonably inferred from the passage?
a) Dr. Currie and the Belgian scientist had often worked together and were good friends.
b) The poachers who had stolen the fossils have now been arrested and put in prison.
c) The fossils that Dr. Currie found in the fossil shop were matched up with the fossil specimens discovered by Dr. Lee’s team.
d) The stolen fossils were purchased by Dr. Lee’s research team and are now housed in a natural history museum.
10. What does Tom Holz imply when he says that Deinocheirus looks as if it had been designed by a committee—a committee of kids?
a) That the dinosaur was a weird combination of many different animal types.
b) That Deinocheirus was one of nature’s biggest mistakes.
c) That the creature was one of the most complex animals to ever exist.
d) That only children can appreciate how intriguing the dinosaur is.
Now that you have completed today’s listening comprehension exercise, it’s time to check your answers and see how well you did. Answers to today’s listening comprehension questions will follow immediately after the closing jingle , so please stay tuned in.
Listen to the Listening Comprehension Questions and Answers HERE:
You may also download the lesson in PDF format to keep for your reference.
KA WORDCAST: Listen Up! Lesson FOURTEEN KEY VOCABULARY
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.
But the Deinocheirus mirificus, which is Greek for “terrible hands that look peculiar,” wasn’t one of the film’s fearsome stars.
In the sentence above, PECULIAR is an adjective that means strange or unusual, especially in a worrying or unpleasant way. Bizarre, abnormal, and weird are some near synonyms.
Scientists still know very little about the deepest parts of the oceans, but one thing they do know is that it is populated with some very PECULIAR creatures.
Gerry’s voice sounded PECULIAR when he answered the phone today. He wasn’t his usual happy, cheerful self.
The chicken I ate at the new diner across the street tasted PECULIAR, as if it had been frozen and thawed out more than once.
PECULIAR can also mean belonging or relating to one particular place, situation, or person. Some related synonyms include characteristic, unique, and typical.
Arthur has his own PECULIAR style of music that appeals only to certain audiences.
Extinct since the late 17th century, the dodo bird was PECULIAR to the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean.
The only Deinocheirus fossils that scientists then possessed were of its eight-foot-long arms and a few bone fragments.
A FRAGMENT is a small piece that has broken or come off something larger.
The police found FRAGMENTS of a wooden baseball bat near the scene of the crime.
The shattered window lay in FRAGMENTS on the floor after Justin smacked a golf ball through it.
A FRAGMENT can also refer to an incomplete part of something.
Katy only overheard FRAGMENTS of her parents’ argument, but she knew that they were both very unhappy with each other.
Despite having seen the movie E.T. at least a dozen times when I was a kid, I can only recall FRAGMENTS of it now.
As a verb, to FRAGMENT means to break or make something break into small pieces or parts.
Plastic bags FRAGMENT into small pieces and pollute our oceans, threatening marine life.
After several years of disuse, the satellite will eventually FRAGMENT and burn up as it falls back through the earth’s atmosphere.
…their persistence paid off when a team of scientists led by Dr. Yuong-Nam Lee of Korea located two additional specimens.
The noun PERSISTENCE refers to a person’s continuing to do something despite difficulties, opposition, or challenges. Perseverance, tenacity, steadfastness, commitment, and diligence are some near equivalents.
Principal Cooper’s PERSISTENCE was finally rewarded when the town council agreed to install speed bumps in the road in front of the school.
Wolf Hall is a long, tough book that requires some PERSISTENCE from the reader, but it is a fascinating read and well worth the effort.
Success is the result of hard work, learning from mistakes, dedication, and PERSISTENCE.
PERSISTENCE can also mean the continued or prolonged existence of something.
An intergovernmental panel of scientists will gather in Geneva to discuss the PERSISTENCE of our planet’s most pressing environmental problems.
The adjective form, PERSISTENT, describes a person who is determined to do something, despite difficulties or opposition. To be persistent is usually a good thing and a key to success, but other people may consider a PERSISTENT person annoying or irritating—if he or she goes too far.
I finally put the phone down on the PERSISTENT salesperson. She just would not take “I’m not interested” for an answer.
Dani can be very PERSISTENT when she wants the other members of the class to go along with her ideas and suggestions.
PERSISTENT also refers to something that continues for a long time without interruption. Steady and unrelenting are the nearest synonyms.
I made an appointment to see a specialist because I’ve had a PERSISTENT cough for more than a month.
All this PERSISTENT rain has saturated the football pitch, making it impossible for the team to train on Sunday morning.
… and hinted at answers to questions scientists had been pondering for over 40 years.
To PONDER means to think about something very carefully for a long time. Contemplate, reflect on, puzzle over, and dwell on are some good substitutes.
Mrs. Eagan PONDERED her student’s question about racism for a moment before replying in the most diplomatic way possible.
My husband and I are still PONDERING over whether moving the family to Japan is the best course of action for us.
The adjective PONDEROUS would seem to be unrelated to the idea of long and careful thought. Most literally, it means very heavy, as in:
The PONDEROUS fruit bent the tree’s branches nearly to the ground.
PONDEROUS also describes something that is heavy and slow moving, or boring and long-winded, as in these examples.
Seeing the tortoise’s PONDEROUS gait, the hare decided to stop and take a little nap.
The new show’s PONDEROUS dialogue did not find favor with younger viewers.
But for a simple reason, scientists could still only hypothesize about the dinosaur’s appearance …
HYPOTHESIZE is a verb based on the noun HYPOTHESIS, which is an idea or explanation for something that is based on a few known facts—but that has not yet been proven. To HYPOTHESIZE means to present an explanation for something based on the information that is available.
Students were asked to look at photos of two families living in different parts of the world and to HYPOTHESIZE about what the families’ typical day might be like.
Meteorologists HYPOTHESIZE that parts of North America may be hit with another polar vortex this winter, but there is currently no data confirming this.
We can only HYPOTHESIZE about the existence of wormholes, but many astronomers believe that they can be found in the center of a black hole.
Prior to the paleontological team’s arrival at the Mongolian quarry, fossil poachers had plundered the excavation site and carted off the dinosaur’s hands, feet, and skull.
To PLUNDER means to steal things from a place, typically by using force. Loot, pillage, rob, ransack, and strip are some useful synonyms.
Modern-day pirates off the coast of Indonesia have PLUNDERED six oil tankers this week alone.
Following the riots that broke out in the city’s most impoverished areas, looters moved in to PLUNDER shops.