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SAT Question for October 25th

Spinosaurus Passage

        At long last, paleontologists have solved a century-        old mystery, piecing together information discovered        by scientists from different times and places.        The mystery began when, in 1911, German(5)    paleontologist Ernst Stromer discovered the first evi-        dence of dinosaurs having lived in Egypt. Stromer,        who expected to encounter fossils of early mammals,        instead found bones that dated back to the Creta-        ceous period, some 97 to 112 million years prior.(10)    His finding consisted of three large bones, which        he preserved and transported back to Germany for        examination. After careful consideration, he        announced that he had discovered a new genus of        sauropod, or a large, four-legged herbivore with(15)    a long neck. He called the genus Aegyptosaurus,        which is Greek for Egyptian lizard. One of these        Aegyptosaurs, he claimed, was the Spinosaurus.        Tragically, the fossils that supported his claim were        destroyed during a raid on Munich by the Royal Air(20)    Force during World War II. The scientific world was        left with Stromer’s notes and sketches, but no hard        evidence that the Spinosaurus ever existed.        It was not until 2008, when a cardboard box of        bones was delivered to paleontologist Nizar Ibrahim(25)    by a nomad in Morocco’s Sahara desert, that a clue to        solving the mystery was revealed. Intrigued, Ibrahim        took the bones to a university in Casablanca for        further study. One specific bone struck him as in-        teresting, as it contained a red line coursing through(30)    it. The following year, Ibrahim and his colleagues at        Italy’s Milan Natural History Museum were look-        ing at bones that resembled the ones delivered the        year before. An important clue was hidden in the        cross-section they were examining, as it contained(35)    the same red line Ibrahim had seen in Morocco.        Against all odds, the Italians were studying bones        that belonged to the very same skeleton as the bones        Ibrahim received in the desert. Together, these bones        make up the partial skeleton of the very first Spino-(40)    saurus that humans have been able to discover since        Stromer’s fossils were destroyed.        Ibrahim and his colleagues published a study        describing the features of the dinosaur, which point        to the Spinosaurus being the first known swimming(45)    dinosaur. At 36 feet long, this particular Spinosaurus        had long front legs and short back legs, each with a        paddle-shaped foot and claws that suggest a carnivo-        rous diet. These features made the dinosaur a deft        swimmer and excellent hunter, able to prey on large(50)    river fish.        Scientists also discovered several aquatic adapta-        tions that made the Spinosaurus unique compared        to dinosaurs that lived on land but ate fish. Similar        to a crocodile, the Spinosaurus had a long snout,(55)    with nostrils positioned so that the dinosaur could        breathe while part of its head was submerged in wa-        ter. Unlike predatory land dinosaurs, the Spinosaur-        us had powerful front legs. The weight of these legs        would have made walking upright like a Tyranno-(60)    saurus Rex impossible, but in water, their strong legs        gave the Spinosaurus the power it needed to swim        quickly and hunt fiercely. Most notable, though, was        the discovery of the Spinosaurus’s massive sail. Made        up of dorsal spines, the sail was mostly meant for(65)    display and did not serve a purpose of its own.        Ibrahim and his fellow researchers used both        modern digital modeling programs and Stromer’s        basic sketches to create and mount a life-size replica        of the Spinosaurus skeleton. The sketches gave them(70)    a starting point, and by arranging and rearranging        the excavated fossils they had in their possession,        they were able to use technology to piece together        hypothetical bone structures until the mystery of        this semiaquatic dinosaur finally emerged from the(75)    murky depths of the past.

The information presented in the passage strongly suggests that Ibrahim


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