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IELTS Reading Short Answer Questions | Example 5
IELTS Reading Short Answer Questions | Example 5

IELTS Reading Short Answer Questions | Example 5

Walking with Dinosaurs

Peter L. Falkingham and his colleagues at Manchester University are developing techniques which look set to revolutionize our understanding of how dinosaurs and other extinct animals behaved.

A. The media image of palaeontologists who study prehistoric life is often of field workers camped in the desert in the hot sun, carefully picking away at the rock surrounding a large dinosaur bone. But Peter Falkingham has done little of that for a while now. Instead, he devotes himself to his computer. Not because he has become inundated with paperwork, but because he is a new kind of paleontologist: a computational paleontologist. What few people may consider is that uncovering a skeleton, or discovering a new species, is where the research begins, not where it ends. What we really want to understand is how the extinct animals and plants behaved in their natural habitats. Dr Bill Sellers and Phil Manning from the University of Manchester use a ‘genetic algorithm’ – a kind of computer code that can change itself and ‘evolve’ – to explore how extinct animals like dinosaurs, and our own early ancestors, walked and stalked.

B. The fossilized bones of a complete dinosaur skeleton can tell scientists a lot about the animal, but they do not make up the complete picture and the computer can try to fill the gap. The computer model is given a digitized skeleton and the locations of known muscles. The model then randomly activates the muscles. This, perhaps unsurprisingly, results almost without fail in the animal falling on its face. So the computer alters the activation pattern and tries again … usually to similar effect. The modelled dinosaurs quickly ‘evolve’. If there is any improvement, the computer discards the old pattern and adopts the new one as the base for alteration. Eventually, the muscle activation pattern evolves a stable way of moving, the best possible solution is reached, and the dinosaur can walk, run, chase or graze. Assuming natural selection evolves the best possible solution too, the modelled animal should be moving in a manner similar to its now-extinct counterpart. And indeed, using the same method for living animals (humans, emu and ostriches) similar top speeds were achieved on the computer as in reality. By comparing their cyberspace results with real measurements of living species, the Manchester team of paleontologists can be confident in the results computed showing how extinct prehistoric animals such as dinosaurs moved.

Questions 1-4

Using NO MORE THAN FIVE WORDS, answer the following questions.

Write your answers in boxes 1-4 on your answer sheet.

  1. What would you call somebody who studies prehistoric life?
  2. How does a paleontologist begin the research?
  3. What does a genetic algorithm explore?
  4. What is the computer model provided with?

Answers

  1. A paleontologist
  2. Uncovering skeletons or species
  3. Extinct animals and ancestors
  4. Digitized skeleton & muscle location 

Explanation

For the first question, the answer is in the first para, 1st line; “The media image of palaeontologists who study prehistoric life”

The second answer is in the first para, 5th line and in 2nd para 1st line; “What few people may consider is that uncovering a skeleton, or discovering a new species, is where the research begins, not where it ends.The fossilized bones of a complete dinosaur skeleton can tell scientists a lot about the animal, but they do not make up the complete picture and the computer can try to fill the gap.”

The third answer is in the first para, 9th line; “‘genetic algorithm’ – a kind of computer code that can change itself and ‘evolve’ – to explore how extinct animals like dinosaurs, and our own early ancestors, walked and stalked.”

For the fourth question, the answer is in the second para, 3rd line; “The computer model is given a digitized skeleton and the locations of known muscles.” 

Also check: 

Written By

Nafia Zuhana is an experienced content writer and IELTS Trainer. Currently, she is guiding students who are appearing for IELTS General and Academic exams through ieltsmaterial.com. With an 8.5 score herself, she trains and provides test takers with strategies, tips, and nuances on how to crack the IELTS Exam. She holds a degree in Master of Arts – Creative Writing, Oxford Brookes University, UK. She has worked with The Hindu for over a year as an English language trainer.

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