IELTS Reading Academic takes 60 minutes. There is a total of 40 questions to answer. It consists of 3 or sometimes 4 reading passages. IELTS Simulator helps the users to practice exam.

IELTS READING – Beyond the blue horizon S18AT3

IELTS SIMULATOR ONLINE IELTS READING EASY DEMO - Beyond the blue horizon Ancient voyagers who settled the far-flung islands of the Pacific Ocean.
IELTS READING

Beyond the blue horizon

Ancient voyagers who settled the far-flung islands of the Pacific Ocean.

An important Q2 archaeological discovery on the island of Efate in the Pacific archipelago of Vanuatu has revealed traces of an ancient seafaring people, the distant ancestors of today’s, Polynesians. The site came to light only by chance. An agricultural worker, digging in the grounds of a derelict Q1 plantation, scraped open a grave – the first of dozens in a burial ground some 3,000 years old.

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It is the oldest cemetery ever found in the Pacific islands, and it harbors the remains of an ancient people archaeologists call the Lapita.

They were daring blue-water adventurers who used basic canoes to rove across the ocean. But they were not just explorers. They were also pioneers who carried with them everything they would need to build new lives – their Q3 livestock, taro seedlings and stone tools. Within the span of several centuries, the Lapita stretched the boundaries of their world from the jungle-clad volcanoes of Papua New Guinea to the loneliest coral outliers of Tonga.

The Lapita left precious few clues about themselves, but Efate expands the volume of data available to researchers dramatically. The remains of 62 individuals have been uncovered so far, and archaeologists were also thrilled to find six complete Lapita pots. Other items included a Lapita Q4 burial urn with modeled birds arranged on the rim as though peering down at the human remains sealed inside. ‘It’s an important discovery,’ says Matthew Spriggs, professor of archaeology at the Australian National University and head of the international team digging up the site, ‘for it conclusively identifies the Q5 remains as Lapita.’

DNA teased from these human remains may help answer one of the most puzzling questions in Pacific anthropology: did all Pacific islanders spring from one source or many? Was there only one outward migration from a single point in Asia, or several from different points? ‘This represents the best opportunity we’ve had yet,’ says Spriggs, ‘to find out who the Lapita actually were, where they came from, and who their closest descendants are today.’

There is one stubborn question for which archaeology has yet to provide any answers: how did the Lapita accomplish the ancient equivalent of a moon landing, many times over? Q6 No-one has found one of their canoes or any rigging, which could reveal how the canoes were sailed. Nor do the oral histories and traditions of later Polynesians offer any insights, for they turn into myths long before they reach as far back in time as the Lapita.

‘All we can say for certain is that the Lapita had canoes that were capable of ocean voyages, and they had the ability to sail them,’ says Geoff Irwin, a professor of archaeology at the University of Auckland. Those sailing skills, he says, were developed and passed down over thousands of years by earlier mariners who worked their way through the archipelagoes of the western Pacific, making short crossings to nearby islands. Q7 The real adventure didn’t begin, however, until their Lapita descendants sailed out of sight of land, with empty horizons on every side. This must have been as difficult for them as landing on the moon is for us today. Certainly it distinguished them from their ancestors, but what gave them the courage to launch out on such risky voyages?

The Lap it as thrust into the Pacific was eastward, against the prevailing trade winds, Irwin notes. Those nagging headwinds, he argues, may have been the key to their success. ‘They could sail out for days into the unknown and assess the area, secure in the knowledge that if they didn’t find anything, they could turn about and catch a swift ride back on the trade winds. Q8 This is what would have made the whole thing work.’ Once out there, skilled seafarers would have detected abundant leads to follow to land: seabirds, coconuts and twigs carried out to sea by the tides, and the afternoon pile-up of clouds on the horizon which often indicates an island in the distance.

Q9 For returning explorers, successful or not, the geography of their own archipelagoes would have provided a safety net. Without this to go by, overshooting their home ports, getting lost and sailing off into eternity would have been all too easy. Vanuatu, for example, stretches more than 500 miles in a northwest-southeast trend, its scores of inrervisible islands forming a backstop for mariners riding the trade winds home.

All this presupposes one essential detail, says Atholl Anderson, professor of prehistory at the Australian National University: Q10 the Lapita had mastered the advanced art of sailing against the wind. ‘And there’s no proof they could do any such thing,’ Anderson says. ‘There has been this assumption they did, and people have built canoes to re-create those early voyages based on that assumption. But nobody has any idea what their canoes looked like or how they were rigged.’

Rather than give all the credit to human skill, Anderson invokes the winds of chance. Q11 El Nino, the same climate disruption that affects the Pacific today, may have helped scatter the Lapita, Anderson suggests. He points out that climate data obtained from slow-growing corals around the Pacific indicate a series of unusually frequent El Ninos around the time of the Lapita expansion. By reversing the regular east-to-west flow of the trade winds for weeks at a time, these super El Ninos might have taken the Lapita on long unplanned voyages.

Q13 However they did it, the Lapita spread themselves a third of the way across the Pacific, then called it quits for reasons known only to them. Ahead lay the vast emptiness of the central Pacific and perhaps they were too thinly stretched to venture farther. They probably never numbered more than a few thousand in total, and in their rapid migration eastward they encountered hundreds of islands – more than 300 in Fiji alone.

Q14 It is likely that the majority of Lapita settled on Fiji. NOT GIVEN

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IELTS READING – Autumn leaves S18AT2

IELTS SIMULATOR ONLINE IELTS READING EASY DEMO - Autumn leaves Canadian writer Jay Ingram investigates the mystery of why leaves turn red in the fall
IELTS READING

Autumn leaves

Canadian writer Jay Ingram investigates the mystery of why leaves turn red in the fall.

A One of the most captivating natural events of the year in many areas throughout North America is the turning of the leaves in the fall. The colours are magnificent, but the question of exactly why some trees turn yellow or orange, and others red or purple, is something which has long puzzled scientists.

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B Q4 Summer leaves are green because they are full of chlorophyll, the molecule that captures sunlight converts that energy into new building materials for the tree. As fall approaches in the northern hemisphere, the amount of solar energy available declines considerably. For many trees – evergreen conifers being an exception – the best strategy is to abandon photosynthesis* until the spring. So Q2 rather than maintaining the now redundant leaves throughout the winter, the tree saves its precious resources and discards them. But before letting its leaves go, the tree dismantles their chlorophyll molecules and ships their valuable nitrogen back into the twigs. Q13 As chlorophyll is depleted, other colours that have been dominated by it throughout the summer begin to be revealed. This unmasking explains the autumn colours of yellow and orange, but not the brilliant reds and purples of trees such as the maple or sumac.

C Q1 The source of the red is widely known: it is created by anthocyanins, water-soluble plant pigments reflecting the red to blue range of the visible spectrum. They belong to a class of sugar-based chemical compounds also known as flavonoids. What’s puzzling is that anthocyanins are actually newly minted, made in the leaves at the same time as the tree is preparing to drop them. But it is hard to make sense of the manufacture of anthocyanins – why should a tree bother making new chemicals in its leaves when it’s already scrambling to withdraw and preserve the ones already there?

D Some theories about anthocyanins have argued that they might act as a chemical defence against attacks by insects or fungi, or that they might attract fruit-eating birds or increase a leafs tolerance to freezing. However there are problems with each of these theories, including the fact that leaves are red for such a relatively short period that the expense of energy needed to manufacture the anthocyanins would outweigh any anti-fungal or anti-herbivore activity achieved.* photosynthesis: the production of new material from sunlight, water and carbon dioxide.

E Q5 It has also been proposed that trees may produce vivid red colours to convince herbivorous insects that they are healthy and robust and would be easily able to mount chemical defences against infestation. If insects paid attention to such advertisements, they might be prompted to lay their eggs on a duller, and presumably less resistant host. The flaw in this theory lies in the lack of proof to support it. No one has as yet ascertained whether more robust trees sport the brightest leaves, or whether insects make choices according to colour intensity.

F Perhaps the most plausible suggestion as to why leaves would go to the trouble of making anthocyanins when they’re busy packing up for the winter is the theory known as the ‘light screen’ hypothesis. Q11 It sounds paradoxical, because the idea behind this hypothesis is that Q10 the red pigment is made in autumn leaves to protect chlorophyll, the light-absorbing chemical, from too much light. Why does chlorophyll need protection when it is the natural world’s supreme light absorber? Why protect chlorophyll at a time when the tree is breaking it down to salvage as much of it as possible?

G Chlorophyll, although exquisitely evolved to capture the energy of sunlight, can sometimes be overwhelmed by it, especially in situations of drought, low temperatures, or nutrient deficiency. Moreover, the problem of oversensitivity to light is even more acute in the fall, when the leaf is busy preparing for winter by dismantling its internal machinery. The energy absorbed by the chlorophyll molecules of the unstable autumn leaf is not immediately channelled into useful products and processes, as it would be in an intact summer leaf. The weakened fall leaf then becomes vulnerable to the highly destructive effects of the oxygen created by the excited chlorophyll molecules.

H Q3 Even if you had never suspected that this is what was going on when leaves turn red, there are clues out there. One is straightforward: on many trees, the leaves that are the reddest are those Q6 on the side of the tree which gets most sun. Not only that, but the red is brighter on the Q7 upper side of the leaf. It has also been recognised for decades that the best conditions for intense red colours are Q8 dry, sunny days and cool nights, conditions that nicely match those that make leaves susceptible to excess light. And finally, trees such as maples usually get much redder the more north you travel in the Q9 northern hemisphere. It’s colder there, they’re more stressed, their chlorophyll is more sensitive and it needs more sunblock.

Q12 Leaves which turn colours other than red are more likely to be damaged by sunlight. NOT GIVEN

I What is still not fully understood, however, is why some trees resort to producing red pigments while others don’t bother, and simply reveal their orange or yellow hues. Do these trees have other means at their disposal to prevent overexposure to light in autumn? Their story, though not as spectacular to the eye, will surely turn out to be as subtle and as complex.

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IELTS READING – The Context, Meaning and Scope of Tourism S18AT1

IELTS SIMULATOR ONLINE IELTS READING EASY DEMO - The Context, Meaning and Scope of Tourism The development of mass tourism

IELTS READING

The Context, Meaning and Scope of Tourism

A – The history of travel

Travel has existed since the beginning of time, when primitive man set out, often traversing great distances in search of game, which provided the food and clothing necessary for his survival. Throughout the course of history, people have travelled for purposes of trade, religious conviction, economic gain, war, migration and other equally compelling motivations.

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In the Roman era, wealthy aristocrats and high government officials also travelled for pleasure. Seaside resorts located at Pompeii and Herculaneum afforded citizens the opportunity to escape to their vacation villas in order to avoid the summer heat of Rome. Travel, except during the Dark Ages, has continued to grow and, throughout recorded history, has played a vital role in the development of civilisations and their economies.

B – The development of mass tourism

Q1 Tourism in the mass form as we know it today is a distinctly twentieth-century phenomenon. Historians suggest that the advent of mass tourism began in England during the industrial revolution with the rise of the middle class and the availability of relatively inexpensive transportation. The creation of the commercial airline industry following the Second World War and the subsequent development of the jet aircraft in the 1950s signalled the rapid growth and expansion of international travel. This growth led to the development of a major new industry: tourism. In turn, international tourism became the concern of a number of world governments since it not only provided new employment opportunities but also produced a means of earning foreign exchange.

C – Economic and social significance of tourism

Q2 Tourism today has grown significantly in both economic and social importance. In most industrialised countries over the past few years the fastest growth has been seen in the area of services. One of the largest segments of the service industry, although largely unrecognised as an entity in some of these countries, is travel and tourism. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (1992), Q5 travel and tourism is the largest industry in the world on virtually any economic measure including value-added capital investment, employment and tax contributions,. In 1992’ the industry’s gross output was estimated to be $3.5 trillion, over 12 per cent of all consumer spending. The travel and tourism industry is the world’s largest employer the almost 130 million jobs, or almost 7 per cent of all employees. This industry is the world’s leading industrial contributor, producing over 6 per cent of the world’s national product and accounting for capital investment in excess of $422 billion m direct indirect and personal taxes each year. Thus, tourism has a profound impact both on the world economy and, because of the educative effect of travel and the effects on employment, on society itself.

Q6 Tourism contributes over six per cent of the Australian gross national product. NOT GIVEN

D – Difficulty in recognising the economic effects of tourism

Q3 However, the major problems of the travel and tourism industry that have hidden, or obscured, its economic impact are Q8 the diversity and fragmentation of the industry itself. The travel industry includes: hotels, motels and other types of accommodation; restaurants and other food services; transportation services and facilities; amusements, attractions and other leisure facilities; gift shops and a large number of other enterprises. Since many of these businesses also serve local residents, the impact of spending by visitors can easily be overlooked or underestimated. In addition, Meis (1992) points out that the tourism industry involves concepts that have remained amorphous to both analysts and decision makers. Moreover, in all nations this problem has made it difficult for the industry to develop any type of reliable or credible tourism information base in order to estimate the contribution it makes to regional, national and global economies. However, the nature of this very diversity makes travel and tourism ideal vehicles for economic development in a wide variety of countries, regions or communities.

Q9 Visitor spending is always greater than the spending of residents in tourist areas. NOT GIVEN

E – The world impact of tourism

Once the exclusive province of the wealthy, travel and tourism have become an institutionalised way of life for most of the population. In fact, McIntosh and Goeldner (1990) suggest that Q4 tourism has become the largest commodity in international trade for many nations and, for a significant number of other countries, it ranks second or third. For example, tourism is the major Q11 source of income in Bermuda, Greece, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and most Caribbean countries. In addition, Hawkins and Ritchie, quoting from data published by the American Express Company, suggest that the travel and tourism industry is the number one ranked Q12 employer in the Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, France, (the former) West Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States. However, Q10 because of problems of definition, which directly affect statistical measurement, it is not possible with any degree of certainty to provide precise, valid or reliable data about the extent of world-wide tourism participation or its economic impact. In many cases, similar difficulties arise when attempts are made to measure Q13 domestic tourism.

Q7 Tourism has a social impact because it promotes recreation. NOT GIVEN

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IELTS READING – When evolution runs backwards S17AT3

IELTS SIMULATOR ONLINE IELTS READING EASY DEMO - When evolution runs backwards The description of any animal as an ‘evolutionary throwback’ is controversial
IELTS READING

When evolution runs backwards

Evolution isn’t supposed to run backwards – yet an increasing number of examples show that it does and that it can sometimes represent the future of a species.

The description of any animal as an ‘evolutionary throwback’ is controversial. Q6 For the better part of a century, most biologists have been reluctant to use those words, mindful of a principle of evolution that says ‘evolution cannot run backwards.

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But as more and more examples come to light and modern genetics enters the scene, that principle is having to be rewritten. Not only are evolutionary throwbacks possible, they sometimes play an important role in the forward march of evolution.

The technical term for an evolutionary throwback is an ‘atavism’, from the Latin atavus, meaning forefather. The word has ugly connotations thanks largely to Cesare Lombroso, a 19th-century Italian medic who argued that criminals were born not made and could be identified by certain physical features that were throwbacks to a primitive, sub-human state.

Q7 While Lombroso was measuring criminals, a Belgian palaeontologist called Louis Dollo was studying fossil records and coming to the opposite conclusion. In 1890 he proposed that evolution was irreversible: that ‘an organism is unable to return, even partially, to a previous stage already realised in the ranks of its ancestors. Q1 Early 20th-century biologists came to a similar conclusion, though they qualified it in terms of probability, stating that there is no reason why evolution cannot run backwards -it is just very unlikely. And so the idea of irreversibility in evolution stuck and came to be known as ‘Dollo’s law.

If Dollo’s law is right, atavisms should occur only very rarely, if at all. Yet almost since the idea took root, exceptions have been cropping up. In 1919, for example, a humpback whale with a pair of leglike appendages over a metre long, complete with a full set of limb bones, was caught off Vancouver Island in Canada. Q2 Explorer Roy Chapman Andrews argued at the time that the whale must be a throwback to a land-living ancestor. ‘I can see no other explanation, he wrote in 1921.

Since then, Q8 so many other examples have been discovered that it no longer makes sense to say that evolution is as good as irreversible. And this poses a puzzle: how can characteristics that disappeared millions of years ago suddenly reappear? In 1994, Rudolf Raff and colleagues at Indiana University in the USA decided to use genetics to put a number on the probability of evolution going into reverse. They reasoned that while some evolutionary changes involve the loss of genes and are therefore irreversible, others may be the result of genes being switched off. Q3 If these silent genes are somehow switched back on, they argued, longlost traits could reappear.

Raff’s team went on to calculate the likelihood of it happening. Silent genes accumulate random mutations, they reasoned, eventually rendering them useless. So how long can a gene survive in a species if it is no longer used? The team calculated that there is a good chance of silent genes surviving for up to 6 million years in at least a few individuals in a population, and that some might survive as long as 10 million years. In other words, throwbacks are possible, but only to the relatively recent evolutionary past.

Q4 As a possible example, the team pointed to the mole salamanders of Mexico and California. Like most amphibians these begin life in a juvenile ‘tadpole’ state, then metamorphose into the adult form – except for one species, the axolotl, which famously lives its entire life as a juvenile. The simplest explanation for this is that the axolotl lineage alone lost the ability to metamorphose, while others retained it. From a detailed analysis of the salamanders’ family tree, however, it is clear that the other lineages evolved from an ancestor that itself had lost the ability to metamorphose. In other words, metamorphosis in mole salamanders is an atavism. The salamander example fits with Raff’s 10million-year time frame.

More recently, however, examples have been reported that break the time limit, suggesting that silent genes may not be the whole story. In a paper published last year, biologist Gunter Wagner of Yale University reported some work on the evolutionary history of a group of South American lizards called Bachia. Many of these have minuscule limbs; some look more like snakes than lizards and a few have completely lost the toes on their hind limbs. Other species, however, sport up to four toes on their hind legs. The simplest explanation is that the toed lineages never lost their toes, but Wagner begs to differ. Q5 According to his analysis of the Bachia family tree, Q12 the toed species re-evolved toes from toeless ancestors and, what is more, digit loss and gain has occurred on more than one occasion over tens of millions of years.

Q11 Wagner was the first person to do research on South American lizards. NOT GIVEN

So what’s going on? One possibility is that these traits are lost and then simply reappear, Q9 in much the same way that similar structures can independently arise in unrelated species, such as the dorsal fins of sharks and killer whales. Q10 Another more intriguing possibility is that the genetic information needed to make toes somehow survived for tens or perhaps hundreds of millions of years in the lizards and was reactivated. These atavistic traits provided an advantage and spread through the population, effectively reversing evolution.

But if silent genes degrade within 6 to million years, how can long-lost traits be reactivated over longer timescales? The answer may lie in the womb. Q13 Early embryos of many species develop ancestral features. Snake embryos, for example, sprout hind limb buds. Later in development these features disappear thanks to developmental programs that say ‘lose the leg’. Q14 If for any reason this does not happen, the ancestral feature may not disappear, leading to an atavism.

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