Soal Latihan dan Jawaban Reading Comprehension 24
Prehistoric mammoths have been preserved in the famous tar pits of Rancho La Brea
(Brea is the Spanish word for tar) in what now the heart of Los Angeles, California.
These tar pits have been known for centuries and were formerly mined for their natural
asphalt, a black or brown petroleum-like substance. Thousands of tons were extracted
(5) before 1875, when it was first noticed that the tar contained fossil remains. Major
excavations were undertaken that established the significance of this remarkable site.
The tar pits were found to contain the remains of scores of species of animals from the last
30,000 years of the Ice Age.
Since then, over 100 tons of fossils, 1.5 million from vertebrates, 2.5 million from
(10) invertebrates, have been recovered, often in densely concentrated tangled masses. The
creatures found range form insects and birds to giant ground sloth’s, but a total of 17
proboscides (animal with a proboscis or long nose)- including mastodons and
Columbian mammoths- have been recovered, most of them from Pit 9, the deepest
bone-bearing deposit, which was excavated in 1914. Most of the fossils date to between
(15) 40,000 and 10,000 years ago.
The asphalt at La Brea seeps to the surface, especially in the summer, and forms
shallow puddles that would often have been concealed by leaves and dust. Unwary
animals would become trapped on these thin sheets of liquid asphalt, which are extremely
sticky in warm weather. Stuck, the unfortunate beasts would die of exhaustion and
(20) hunger or fall prey to predators that often also became stuck.
As the animals decayed, more scavengers would be attracted and caught in their turn.
Carnivores greatly outnumber herbivores in the collection: for every large herbivore,
there is one saber-tooth cat, a coyote, and four wolves. The fact that some bones are
heavily weathered shows that some bodies remained above the surface for weeks or
(25) months. Bacteria in the asphalt would have consumed some of the tissues other than
bones, and the asphalt itself would dissolve what was left, at the same time impregnating
and beautifully preserving the saturated bones, rendering then dark brown and shiny.
Reading Comprehension 24
The chemical and biological interactions between asphalt and animals
The amount of asphalt that was mined there
The fossil remains that have been found there
Scientific methods of determining the age of tar pits
supplies of natural asphalt
To give examples of animals that are classified as carnivores
To specify the animals found least commonly at La Brea
To argue that these animals were especially likely to avoid extinction.
To define the term “scavengers”