The Dinosaurs Footprints and Extinction


You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 1-13 which are based on Reading Passage 1 below.

The Dinosaurs Footprints and Extinction


EVERYBODY knows that the dinosaurs were killed by an asteroid. Something big hit the earth 65 million years ago and, when the dust had fallen, so had the great reptiles. There is thus a nice if ironic, symmetry in the idea that a similar impact brought about the dinosaurs’ rise. That is the thesis proposed by Paul Olsen, of Columbia University, and his colleagues in this week’s Science.


Dinosaurs first appeared in the fossil record 230m years ago, during the Triassic period. But they were mostly small, and they shared the earth with lots of other sorts of reptile. It was in the subsequent Jurassic, which began 202 million years ago, that they overran the planet and turned into the monsters depicted in the book and movie “Jurassic Park”. (Actually, though, the dinosaurs that appeared on screen were from the still more recent Cretaceous period.) Dr Olsen and his colleagues are not the first to suggest that the dinosaurs inherited the earth as the result of an asteroid strike. But they are the first to show that the takeover did, indeed, happen in a geological eyeblink.


Dinosaur skeletons are rare. Dinosaur footprints are, however, surprisingly abundant. And the sizes of the prints are as good an indication of the sizes of the beasts as are the skeletons themselves. Dr Olsen and his colleagues, therefore, concentrated on prints, not bones.


The prints in question were made in eastern North America, a part of the world the full of rift valleys to those in East Africa today. Like the modern African rift valleys, the Triassic/Jurassic American ones contained lakes, and these lakes grew and shrank at regular intervals because of climatic changes caused by periodic shifts in the earth’s orbit. (A similar phenomenon is responsible for modern ice ages.) That regularity, combined with reversals in the earth’s magnetic field, which are detectable in the tiny fields of certain magnetic minerals, means that rocks from this place and period can be dated to within a few thousand years. As a bonus, squishy lake-edge sediments are just the things for recording the tracks of passing animals. By dividing the labour between themselves, the ten authors of the paper were able to study such tracks at 80 sites.


The researchers looked at 18 so-called ichnotaxa. These are recognizable types of the footprint that cannot be matched precisely with the species of animal that left them. But they can be matched with a general sort of animal, and thus act as an indicator of the fate of that group, even when there are no bones to tell the story. Five of the ichnotaxa disappear before the end of the Triassic, and four march confidently across the boundary into the Jurassic. Six, however, vanish at the boundary, or only just splutter across it; and there appear from nowhere, almost as soon as the Jurassic begins.


That boundary itself is suggestive. The first geological indication of the impact that killed the dinosaurs was an unusually high level of iridium in rocks at the end of the Cretaceous when the beasts disappear from the fossil record. Iridium is normally rare at the earth’s surface, but it is more abundant in meteorites. When people began to believe the impact theory, they started looking for other Cretaceous-and anomalies. One that turned up was a surprising abundance of fern spores in rocks just above the boundary layer – a phenomenon known as a “fern spike”.


That matched the theory nicely. Many modern ferns are opportunists. They cannot compete against plants with leaves, but if a piece of land is cleared by, say, a volcanic eruption, they are often the first things to set up shop there. An asteroid strike would have scoured much of the earth of its vegetable cover, and provided a paradise for ferns. A fern spike in the rocks is thus a good indication that something terrible has happened.


Both an iridium anomaly and a fern spike appear in rocks at the end of the Triassic, too. That accounts for the disappearing ichnotaxa: the creatures that made them did not survive the holocaust. The surprise is how rapidly the new ichnotaxa appear.


Dr Olsen and his colleagues suggest that the explanation for this rapid increase in size may be a phenomenon called ecological release. This is seen today when reptiles (which, in modern times, tend to be small creatures) reach islands where they face no competitors. The most spectacular example is on the Indonesian island of Komodo, where local lizards have grown so large that they are often referred to as dragons. The dinosaurs, in other words, could flourish only when the competition had been knocked out.


That leaves the question of where the impact happened. No large hole in the earth’s crust seems to be 202m years old. It may, of course, have been overlooked. Old craters are eroded and buried, and not always easy to find. Alternatively, it may have vanished. Although the continental crust is more or less permanent, the ocean floor is constantly recycled by the tectonic processes that bring about continental drift. There is no ocean floor left that is more than 200m years old, so a crater that formed in the ocean would have been swallowed up by now.


There is a third possibility, however. This is that the crater is known, but has been misdated. The Manicouagan “structure”, a crater in Quebec, is thought to be 214m years old. It is huge – some 100km across – and seems to be the largest of between three and five craters that formed within a few hours of each other as the lumps of a disintegrated comet hit the earth one by one.

Questions 1-6

Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 1?

In boxes 1-6 on your answer sheet, write

YES                  if the statement is true

NO                   if the statement is false

NOT GIVEN    if the information is not given in the passage

1   Dr Paul Olsen and his colleagues believe that asteroid knock may also lead to dinosaurs’ boom.

2   Books and movie like Jurassic Park often exaggerate the size of the dinosaurs.

3   Dinosaur footprints are more adequate than dinosaur skeletons.

4   The prints were chosen by Dr Olsen to study because they are more detectable than the earth magnetic field to track the date of geological precise within thousands of years.

5   Ichnotaxa showed that footprints of dinosaurs offer exact information of the trace left by an individual species.

6   We can find more Iridium in the earth’s surface than in meteorites.

Questions 7-13

Complete the following summary of the paragraphs of Reading Passage

Using NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the Reading Passage for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 7-13 on your answer sheet.

Dr Olsen and his colleagues applied a phenomenon named 7…………………………. to explain the large size of the Eubrontes, which is a similar case to that nowadays reptiles invade a place where there are no 8…………………………..; for example, on an island called Komodo, indigenous huge lizards grow so big that people even regarding them as 9…………………………

However, there were no old impact trace being found? The answer may be that we have 10……………………….. the evidence. Old craters are difficult to spot or it probably 11………………………. Due to the effect of the earth moving. Even a crater formed in Ocean had been 12…………………………… under the impact of crust movement. Besides, the third hypothesis is that the potential evidence – some craters maybe 13…………………………..


You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 14-27 which are based on Reading Passage 2 below.

Stress of Workplace


How busy is too busy? For some it means having to miss the occasional long lunch; for others, it means missing lunch altogether. For a few, it is not being able to take a “sickie” once a month. Then there is a group of people for whom working every evening and weekend is normal, and frantic is the tempo of their lives. For most senior executives, workloads swing between extremely busy and frenzied. The vice-president of the management consultancy AT Kearney and its head of telecommunications for the Asia-Pacific region, Neil Plumridge, says his work weeks vary from a “manageable” 45 hours to 80 hours, but average 60 hours.


Three warning signs alert Plumridge about his workload: sleep, scheduling and family. He knows he has too much on when he gets less than six hours of sleep for three consecutive nights; when he is constantly having to reschedule appointments; “and the third one is on the family side”, says Plumridge, the father of a three-year-old daughter, and expecting a second child in October. “If I happen to miss a birthday or anniversary, I know things are out of control.” Being “too busy” is highly subjective. But for any individual, the perception of being too busy over a prolonged period can start showing up as stress: disturbed sleep, and declining mental and physical health. National workers’ compensation figures show stress causes the most lost time of any workplace injury. Employees suffering stress are off work an average of 16.6 weeks. The effects of stress are also expensive. Comcare, the Federal Government insurer, reports that in 2003-04, claim costs. Experts say the key to dealing with stress is not to focus on relief – a game of golf or a massage – but to reassess workloads. Neil Plumridge says he makes it a priority to work out what has to change; that might mean allocating extra resources to a job, allowing more time or changing expectations. The decision may take several days. He also relies on the advice of colleagues, saying his peers’ coach each other with business problems. “Just a fresh pair of eyes over an issue can help,” he says.


Executive stress is not confined to big organisations. Vanessa Stoykov has been running her own advertising and public relations business for seven years, specializing in work for financial and professional services firms. Evolution Media has grown so fast that it debuted on the BRW Fast 100 list of fastest-growing small enterprises last year – just after Stoykov had her first child. Stoykov thrives on the mental stimulation of running her own business. “Like everyone, I have the occasional day when I think my head’s going to blow off,” she says. Because of the growth phase, the business is in, Stoykov has to concentrate on short-term stress relief – weekends in the mountains, the occasional “mental health” day – rather than delegating more work. She says: “We’re hiring more people, but you need to train them, teach them about the culture and the clients, so it’s actually more work rather than less.”


Identify the causes: Jan Elsnera, Melbourne psychologist who specialises in executive coaching, says thriving on a demanding workload is typical of senior executives and other high-potential business people. She says there is no one-size-fits-all approach to stress: some people work best with high-adrenalin periods followed by quieter patches, while others thrive under sustained pressure. “We could take urine and blood hormonal measures and pass judgement of whether someone’s physiologically stressed or not,” she says. “But that’s not going to give us an indicator of what their experience of stress is, and what the emotional and cognitive impacts of stress are going to be.”


Elsner’s practice is informed by a movement known as positive psychology, a school of thought that argues “positive” experiences – feeling engaged, challenged, and that one is making a contribution to something meaningful – do not balance out negative ones such as stress; instead, they help people increase their resilience over time. Good stress, or positive experiences of being challenged and rewarded, is thus cumulative in the same way as bad stress. Elsner says many of the senior business people she coaches are relying more on regulating bad stress through methods such as meditation and yoga. She points to research showing that meditation can alter the biochemistry of the brain and actually help people “retrain” the way their brains and bodies react to stress. “Meditation and yoga enable you to shift the way that your brain reacts, so if you get proficient at it you’re in control.”


The Australian vice-president of AT Kearney, Neil Plumridge, says: “Often stress is caused by our setting unrealistic expectations of ourselves. I’ll promise a client I’ll do something tomorrow, and the [promise] another client the same thing, when I really know it’s not going to happen. I’ve put stress on myself when I could have said to the clients: ‘Why don’t I give that to you in 48 hours?’ The client doesn’t care.” Overcommitting is something people experience as an individual problem. We explain it as the result of procrastination or Parkinson’s law: that work expands to fill the time available. New research indicates that people may be hard-wired to do it.


A study in the February issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology shows that people always believe they will be less busy in the future than now. This is a misapprehension, according to the authors of the report, Professor Gal Zauberman, of the University of North Carolina, and Professor John Lynch, of Duke University. “On average, an individual will be just as busy two weeks or a month from now as he or she is today. But that is not how it appears to be in everyday life,” they wrote. “People often make commitments long in advance that they would never make if the same commitments required immediate action. That is, they discount future time investments relatively steeply.” Why do we perceive a greater “surplus” of time in the future than in the present? The researchers suggest that people underestimate completion times for tasks stretching into the future and that they are bad at imagining the future competition for their time.

Questions 14-18

Use the information in the passage to match the people (listed A-D) with opinions or deeds below.

Write the correct letter A-D, in boxes 14-18 on your answer sheet.

NB  You may use any letter more than once.

A          Jan Elsnera

B          Vanessa Stoykov

C          Gal Zauberman

D         Neil Plumridge

14   Work stress usually happens in the high level of a business.

15   More people’s ideas involved would be beneficial for stress relief.

16   Temporary holiday sometimes doesn’t mean less work.

17   Stress leads to the wrong direction when trying to satisfy customers.

18   It is not correct that stress in the future will be eased more than now.

Questions 19-21

Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D.

Write your answers in boxes 19-21 on your answer sheet.

19   Which of the following workplace stress is NOT mentioned according to Plumridge in the following option?

A   Not enough time spend on family

B   Unable to concentrate on work

C   Inadequate time of sleep

D   Alteration of appointment

20   Which of the following solution is NOT mentioned in helping reduce the work pressure according to Plumridge?

A   Allocate more personnel

B   Increase more time

C   Lower expectation

D   Do sports and massage

21   What is the point of view of Jan Elsnera towards work stress?

A   Medical test can only reveal part of the data needed to cope with stress

B   Index somebody samples will be abnormal in a stressful experience

C   Emotional and cognitive affection is superior to a physical one

D   One well a designed solution can release all stress

Questions 22-27

Complete the following summary of the paragraphs of Reading Passage

Using NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the Reading Passage for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 22-27 on your answer sheet.

Statistics from National worker’s compensation indicate stress plays the most important role in 22………………………… which cause the time losses. Staffs take about 23……………………………… for absence from work caused by stress. Not just time is our main concern but great expenses generated consequently. An official insurer wrote sometime that about 24…………………………… of all claims were mental issues whereas nearly 27% costs in all claims. Sports such as 25………………………., as well as 26………………………….. could be a treatment to release stress; However, specialists recommended another practical way out, analyse 27………………………… once again.


You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 28-40 which are based on Reading Passage 3 below.

Multitasking Debate

Can you do them at the same time?


Talking on the phone while driving isn’t the only situation where we’re worse at multitasking than we might like to think we are. New studies have identified a bottleneck in our brains that some say means we are fundamentally incapable of true multitasking. If experimental findings reflect real-world performance, people who think they are multitasking are probably just underperforming in all – or at best, all but one – of their parallel pursuits. Practice might improve your performance, but you will never be as good as when focusing on one task at a time.


The problem, according to René Marois, a psychologist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, is that there’s a sticking point in the brain. To demonstrate this, Marois devised an experiment to locate it. Volunteers watch a screen and when a particular image appears, a red circle, say, they have to press a key with their index finger. Different coloured circles require presses from different fingers. Typical response time is about half a second, and the volunteers quickly reach their peak performance. Then they learn to listen to different recordings and respond by making a specific sound. For instance, when they hear a bird chirp, they have to say “ba”; an electronic sound should elicit a “ko”, and so on. Again, no problem. A normal person can do that in about half a second, with almost no effort.


The trouble comes when Marois shows the volunteers an image, and then almost immediately plays them a sound. Now they’re flummoxed. “If you show an image and play a sound at the same time, one task is postponed,” he says. In fact, if the second task is introduced within the half-second or so it takes to process and react to the first, it will simply be delayed until the first one is done. The largest dual-task delays occur when the two tasks are presented simultaneously; delays progressively shorten as the interval between presenting the tasks lengthens.


There are at least three points where we seem to get stuck, says Marois. The first is in simply identifying what we’re looking at. This can take a few tenths of a second, during which time we are not able to see and recognise a second item. This limitation is known as the “attentional blink”: experiments have shown that if you’re watching out for a particular event and a second one shows up unexpectedly any time within this crucial window of concentration, it may register in your visual cortex but you will be unable to act upon it. Interestingly, if you don’t expect the first event, you have no trouble to respond to the second. What exactly causes the attentional blink is still a matter for debate.


A second limitation is in our short-term visual memory. It’s estimated that we can keep track of about four items at a time, fewer if they are complex. This capacity shortage is thought to explain, in part, our astonishing inability to detect even huge changes in scenes that are otherwise identical, so-called “change blindness”. Show people pairs of near-identical photos – say, aircraft engines in one picture have disappeared in the other – and they will fail to spot the differences. Here again, though, there is disagreement about what the essential limiting factor really is. Does it come down to a dearth of storage capacity, or is it about how much attention a viewer is paying?


A third limitation is that choosing a response to a stimulus – braking when you see a child in the road, for instance, or replying when your mother tells you over the phone that she’s thinking of leaving your dad – also takes brainpower. Selecting a response to one of these things will delay by some tenths of a second your ability to respond to the other. This is called the “response selection bottleneck” theory, first proposed in 1952.


But David Meyer, a psychologist at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, doesn’t buy the bottleneck idea. He thinks dual-task interference is just evidence of a strategy used by the brain to prioritise multiple activities. Meyer is known as something of an optimist by his peers. He has written papers with titles like “Virtually perfect time-sharing in dual-task performance: Uncorking the central cognitive bottleneck”. His experiments have shown that with enough practice – at least 2000 tries – some people can execute two tasks simultaneously as competently as if they were doing them one after the other. He suggests that there is a central cognitive processor that coordinates all this and, what’s more, he thinks it used discretion: sometimes it chooses to delay one task while completing another.


Marois agrees that practice can sometimes erase interference effects. He has found that with just 1 hour of practice each day for two weeks, volunteers show a huge improvement at managing both his tasks at once. Where he disagrees with Meyer is in what the brain is doing to achieve this. Marois speculates that practice might give us the chance to find less congested circuits to execute a task – rather like finding trusty back streets to avoid heavy traffic on main roads – effectively making our response to the task subconscious. After all, there are plenty of examples of subconscious multitasking that most of us routinely manage: walking and talking, eating and reading, watching TV and folding the laundry.


It probably comes as no surprise that, generally speaking, we get worse at multitasking as we age. According to Art Kramer at the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign, who studies how ageing affects our cognitive abilities, we peak in our 20s. Though the decline is slow through our 30s and on into our 50s, it is there; and after 55, it becomes more precipitous. In one study, he and his colleagues had both young and old participants do a simulated driving task while carrying on a conversation. He found that while young drivers tended to miss background changes, older drivers failed to notice things that were highly relevant. Likewise, older subjects had more trouble paying attention to the more important parts of a scene than young drivers.


It’s not all bad news for over-55s, though. Kramer also found that older people can benefit from the practice. Not only did they learn to perform better, but brain scans also showed that underlying that improvement was a change in the way their brains become active. While it’s clear that practice can often make a difference, especially as we age, the basic facts remain sobering. “We have this impression of an almighty complex brain,” says Marois, “and yet we have very humbling and crippling limits.” For most of our history, we probably never needed to do more than one thing at a time, he says, and so we haven’t evolved to be able to. Perhaps we will in future, though. We might yet look back one day on people like Debbie and Alun as ancestors of a new breed of true multitaskers.

Questions 28-32

The Reading Passage has ten paragraphs A-J.

Which paragraph contains the following information?

Write the correct letter A-J, in boxes 28-32 on your answer sheet.

28   A theory explained delay happens when selecting one reaction

29   Different age group responds to important things differently

30   Conflicts happened when visual and audio element emerge simultaneously

31   An experiment designed to demonstrates the critical part of the brain for multitasking

32   A viewpoint favors the optimistic side of multitasking performance

Questions 33-35

Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D.

Write your answers in boxes 33-35 on your answer sheet.

33   Which one is correct about the experiment conducted by René Marois?

A   participants performed poorly on the listening task solely

B   volunteers press a different key on different color

C   participants need to use different fingers on the different colored object

D   they did a better fob on Mixed image and sound information

34   Which statement is correct about the first limitation of Marois’s experiment?

A   “attentional blink” takes about ten seconds

B   lag occurs if we concentrate on one object while the second one appears

C   we always have trouble in reaching the second one

D   first limitation can be avoided by certain measures

35   Which one is NOT correct about Meyer’s experiments and statements?

A   just after failure in several attempts can people execute dual-task

B   Practice can overcome dual-task interference

C   Meyer holds a different opinion on Marois’s theory

D   an existing processor decides whether to delay another task or not

Questions 36-40

Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 3?

In boxes 36-40 on your answer sheet, write

YES                  if the statement is true

NO                   if the statement is false

NOT GIVEN    if the information is not given in the passage

36   The longer gap between two presenting tasks means shorter delay toward the second one.

37   Incapable of human memory cause people to sometimes miss the differences when presented two similar images.

38   Marois has a different opinion on the claim that training removes the bottleneck effect.

39   Art Kramer proved there is a correlation between multitasking performance and genders

40   The author doesn’t believe that the effect of practice could bring any variation.




The Dinosaurs Footprints and Extinction Reading Answers

Passage 1

  1. YES
  3. YES
  5. NO
  6. NO
  7. ecological release
  8. competitors
  9. dragons
  10. overlooked
  11. (have) vanished
  12. swallowed up
  13. misdated

Stress of Workplace Reading Answers

Passage 2

  1. A
  2. D
  3. B
  4. D
  5. C
  6. B
  7. D
  8. A
  9. workplace injury
  10. 16.6 weeks
  11. 7%
  12. golf
  13. massage
  14. workloads

Multitasking Debate

Passage 3

  1. F
  2. I
  3. C
  4. B
  5. G
  6. C
  7. B
  8. A
  9. YES
  10. YES
  11. NO
  13. NO