If you’ve always thought of kangaroos as being adorable and koala bears as cute, you may be in for a shock. New fossil discoveries are changing the way some of the world’s animals are being perceived today. Fifty million years ago, some familiar animals existed, but in almost unrecognisable forms. For example, whales, which today live in the water, had legs and lived on land, and probably looked like large dogs. During a period of fifteen million years, they gradually moved to living in the sea full-time. Their bodies became sleeker, enabling them to swim more efficiently, and their front legs evolved into flippers. The back legs finally disappeared completely, although this probably did not occur until well after they had moved into the sea. Scientists are uncertain why this transition occurred; maybe whales were trying to escape from predators, or perhaps they needed more food or more space than was available on land.
More recently, it appears, some whales were ferocious killers. Twenty-five million years ago, ancestors of today’s peaceful blue whale had razor-sharp teeth, earning it the nickname “T-rex of the ocean”. Some even more unusual animals also lived in Australia: for example, 20 million years ago, there were killer kangaroos, and 12 million years ago, there were flesh-eating ducks, nicknamed “The Demon Duck of Doom”. And a “mere” 50,000 years ago, Australia was home to giant versions of koala bears and kangaroos, in addition to some animals that have since disappeared, such as crocodiles that climbed trees.
So the next time you cuddle up to a fluffy stuffed animal, you may want to reconsider. Who knows what we will discover next about bears, or mice like Mickey?
I. READING COMPREHENSION
a) ANSWER QUESTIONS 1-2 ACCORDING TO THE INFORMATION GIVEN IN THE TEXT. USE YOUR OWN WORDS.
1) What has happened to cause us to change our view of some of today’s animals?
2) Why were ancestors of today’s blue whale nicknamed “T-rex of the ocean”?
b) ARE THESE STATEMENTS TRUE OR FALSE? JUSTIFY YOUR ANSWERS WITH WORDS OR PHRASES FROM THE TEXT.
3) Fifty million years ago, some of today’s animals existed in different forms.
4) In the past, large dogs may have resembled modern whales.
5) Whales immediately lost their back legs when they began to live in the sea.
- False (lines 8-9) “the back legs finally disappeared completely, although this probably did not occur until well after they had moved into the sea.”
6) There used to be ducks that ate meat.
II. USE OF ENGLISH
7) Give one synonym for ADORABLE (adjective, line 1)
8) Give one opposite for GRADUALLY (adverb, line 6)
9) Find in the text the word which has the following definition:
“don’t know for sure” (adjective)
10) Complete the series with another word of the same semantic group:
- RIVER, SEA, LAKE, OCEAN
11) Join the following sentences using an appropriate linker (do not use AND or BUT). Make changes if necessary.
Their bodies became sleeker. They were able to swim more efficiently.
12) Fill in the gap with the correct form of the verb in brackets.
- Fifty million years ago, whales may have looked (look) like dogs.
13) Rewrite the sentence without changing its meaning. Begin as indicated.
Who knows what we will discover next about bears?
- Who knows what will be discovered next about bears?
14) Give a question for the underlined words.
Some very unusual animals lived in Australia.