ACT Reading Practice Test 88: SOCIAL SCIENCE

DIRECTIONS: Each passage is followed by several questions. After reading a passage, choose the best answer to each question and fill in the corresponding oval on your answer document. You may refer to the passages as often as necessary.


SOCIAL SCIENCE: Passage A is adapted from the article "The Other Humans: Neanderthals Revealed" by Stephen S. Hall (©2008 by The National Geographic Society). Passage B is adapted from the editorial "Fossils for All" by the editors of the journal Scientific American (©2009 by Scientific American, Inc.).

Passage A by Stephen S. Hall

One of the longest and most heated controversies
in human evolution rages around the genetic relation-
?ship between Neanderthals and their European succes-
?sors. Did the modern humans sweeping out of Africa
5beginning some 60,000 years ago completely replace
the Neanderthals, or did they interbreed with them? In
1997 the latter hypothesis was dealt a powerful blow by
geneticist Svante Paabo-then at the University of
Munich-who used an arm bone from the original
10Neanderthal man to deliver it. Paabo and his colleagues
were able to extract a tiny 378-letter snippet of mito-
?chondrial DNA (a kind of short genetic appendix to the
main text in each cell) from the 40,000-year-old speci-
?men. When they read out the letters of the code they
15found that the specimen's DNA differed from living
humans to a degree suggesting that the Neanderthal and
modern human lineages had begun to diverge long
before the modern human migration out of Africa. Thus
the two represent separate geographic and evolutionary
20 branches splitting from a common ancestor. If there
was any interbreeding when they encountered each
other later, it was too rare to leave a trace of Nean-
derthal mitochondrial DNA in the cells of living
people.

25Paabo's genetic bombshell seemed to confirm that
Neanderthals were a separate species.

However, "During this time of the biological tran-
sition," says Erik Trinkaus, a paleoanthropologist at
Washington University in St. Louis, "the baste behavior
30[of the two groups] is pretty much the same, and any
differences are likely to have been subtle." Trinkaus
believes they indeed may have mated occasionally. He
sees evidence of admixture between Neanderthals and
modern humans in certain fossils, such as a 24,500-
35year-old skeleton of a child discovered at the Por-
tuguese site of Lagar Velho. and a 32,000-year-old skull
from a cave called Muierii in Romania.

Katerina Harvati, a researcher at the Max Planck
Institute in Leipzig, has used detailed 3-D measure-
40 ments of Neanderthal and early modern human fossils
to predict exactly what hybrids between the two would
have looked like. None of the fossils examined so far
matches her predictions.

The disagreement between Trinkaus and Harvati is
45hardly the first time that two respected paleoanthropol-
ogists have looked at the same set of bones and come
up with mutually contradictory interpretations. Ponder-
ing-and debating-the meaning of fossil anatomy will
always play a role in understanding Neanderthals.

Passage B by the editors of Scientific American

50In June of 2009 the famed Lucy fossil arrived in
New York City. The 3.2-million-year-old partial skele-
ton of Australopithecus afarensis could attract hundreds
of thousands of visitors over the course of her four-
month engagement-part of a six-year tour.

55Before this tour,Lucy had never been on public
display outside of Ethiopia. One might expect scholars
of human evolution to be delighted by the opportunity
to share the discipline's crown jewel with so many
members of the science-interested public. But news
60reports announcing her New York debut included the
same objections that aired when she first landed in the
U.S: namely, that the bones could sustain damage and
that the tour takes a key specimen out of scientific cir-
culation for too long. Indeed, some major meseums
65turned the exhibit away in part for those reasons

The objections reflect a larger problem of posses-
siveness in the field of human origins. Indeed. fossil
hunters often block other scientists from studying their
treasures, fearing assessments that could scoop or dis-
70agree with their own. In so doing. they are taking the
science out of paleoanthropology.

Critics of such secrecy commonly point to the case
of Ardipithecus ramidus, a 4.4-million-year-old human
ancestor discovered by Tim White of the University of
75California. Berkeley. Fifteen years after White
announced the first fossils of A. ramidus and touted the
importance of this species for understanding human ori-
gins, access to the specimens remains highly restricted.

White, for his part, has said that be published only
80an initial report and that normal practice is to limit
access until publication of a full assessment And he
has noted that the condition of a key specimen-a badly
crushed skeleton-has slowed the release of the team's
detailed report.

85The scientists who unearth the remnants of human-
ity's past deserve first crack at describing and analyz-
ing them. But there sh??uld be clear limJts on this period
science is impeded: outside researchers can neither
90reproduce the discovery team's findings nor test new
hypotheses.

1. The main function of the question in lines 4-6 is to:

A. reveal the date when Neanderthals and early modern humans became separate species. accord-ing to Hall.
B. outline a debate that likely has been resolved through the findings of Trinkaus.
C. suggest the reasons early modern humans eventu-ally replaced Neanderthals.
D. present what Hall believes is one of the most heated controversies in the field of human evolution.

2. As it is used in line 25,the term genetic bombshell most nearly refers to Paabo and his team's:

F. innovative method of studying the mitochondrial DNA of Neanderthals.
G. finding that DNA from a Neanderthal specimen differs significantly from the DNA of living humans.
H. suggestion that there is only a trace of Neanderthal mitochondrial DNA in living humans,
J. discovery that given many samples,Neanderthal DNA sometimes resembles the DNA of living humans.

3. Harvati is described as using 3-D measurements of Neanderthal and early modern human fossils primarily to:

A. avoid having to use actual fossil specimens for her research, since they are often unavailable.
B. predict what a fossil specimen that is a hybrid of the two beings would look like.
C. determine whether the skeleton found in Lagar Velho is of a Neanderthal or an early modern human.
D. create sketches of Neanderthals and early modern humans for other researchers to use.

4. Passage B indicates that. in terms of age. the Lucy fossil is:

F. the oldest fossil of a human ancestor that has been found as of 2009.
G. the oldest fossil of a human ancestor that has been found with the skull intact as of 2009.
H. not as old as the fossils that have been found of A.ramidus.
J. not as old as fossil remnants of a human ancestor that have been found in Romania.

5. Based on Passage B, which of the following is a reason some major museums declined to be part of the tour of the Lucy exhibit?

A. Frustration with scientists' possessiveness of the Lucy fossil in the past
B. Reluctance to share Lucy with the scientific community
C. Anticipation of large crowds to see Lucy that would be difficult to manage in museum spaces
D. Conviction that Lucy is more valuable being stud-ied by scientists than being displayed on tour

6. As is it used in lines 87-88, the term period of exclu-sivity most nearly refers to the:

F. week when a scientist has to decide whether to keep a major fossil find private permanently.
G. first month after a fossil find. after which the dis-covery team is expected to file a report.
H. length of time a scientist may restrict access to new fossil specimens
J. duration of time a scientist is allowed to study fossil specimens unearthed by other scientists.

7. The main purpose of the fifth paragraph of Passage B (lines 79-84) is to:

A. describe the condition of the first fossils of A.ramidus.
B. present what White has offered as justification for bis actions.
C. provide a second example of possessiveness in the field of human origins.
D. outline paleoanthropologists typical procedure for reporting on a major finding.

8. Which statement provides the most accurate compari-son of the tone of each passage?

F. Hall is sentimental and fanciful, whereas the edi-tors of Scientific American are cynical.
G. Hall is objective, whereas the editors of Scientific American are critical and concerned.
H. Hall is disappointed and angry, whereas the editors of Scientific American are forgiving.
J. Hall is sarcastic, whereas the editors of Scientific American are reflective and patient

9. The authors of both passages would most likely agree that the discussion of human origins would best be fur-thered through scientists' willingness to:

A. share fossils of human ancestors and debate their meanings and significance with other experts・
B. memorize the oldest research on Neanderthals and early modem humans.
C. explore new technologies for creating 3-D mea-surements of the bones of A. afarensis.
D. encourage the general public to attend showings of fossils of human ancestors.

10. Compared to Passage A's discussion of the fossil of the original Neanderthal man. Passage B's discussion of the Lucy fossil can best be described as:

F. more focused on outlining the details of the struc-ture and measurements of the fossil.
G. more focused on providing a survey of the work of scientists who have studied the fossil.
H. less focused on describing the fossil's direct role in educating the public about paleoanthropology.
J. less focused on explaining the fossil's direct role in research relating to human origins and genetics