ISEE Middle Level Reading : Textual Relationships in Science Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ISEE Middle Level Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #51 : Textual Relationships In Science Passages

Adapted from "The Colors of Animals" by Sir John Lubbock in A Book of Natural History (1902, ed. David Starr Jordan)

The color of animals is by no means a matter of chance; it depends on many considerations, but in the majority of cases tends to protect the animal from danger by rendering it less conspicuous. Perhaps it may be said that if coloring is mainly protective, there ought to be but few brightly colored animals. There are, however, not a few cases in which vivid colors are themselves protective. The kingfisher itself, though so brightly colored, is by no means easy to see. The blue harmonizes with the water, and the bird as it darts along the stream looks almost like a flash of sunlight.

Desert animals are generally the color of the desert. Thus, for instance, the lion, the antelope, and the wild donkey are all sand-colored. “Indeed,” says Canon Tristram, “in the desert, where neither trees, brushwood, nor even undulation of the surface afford the slightest protection to its foes, a modification of color assimilated to that of the surrounding country is absolutely necessary. Hence, without exception, the upper plumage of every bird, and also the fur of all the smaller mammals and the skin of all the snakes and lizards, is of one uniform sand color.”

The next point is the color of the mature caterpillars, some of which are brown. This probably makes the caterpillar even more conspicuous among the green leaves than would otherwise be the case. Let us see, then, whether the habits of the insect will throw any light upon the riddle. What would you do if you were a big caterpillar? Why, like most other defenseless creatures, you would feed by night, and lie concealed by day. So do these caterpillars. When the morning light comes, they creep down the stem of the food plant, and lie concealed among the thick herbage and dry sticks and leaves, near the ground, and it is obvious that under such circumstances the brown color really becomes a protection. It might indeed be argued that the caterpillars, having become brown, concealed themselves on the ground, and that we were reversing the state of things. But this is not so, because, while we may say as a general rule that large caterpillars feed by night and lie concealed by day, it is by no means always the case that they are brown; some of them still retaining the green color. We may then conclude that the habit of concealing themselves by day came first, and that the brown color is a later adaptation.

Why is it considered especially vital for desert animals to match the color of the desert?

Possible Answers:

Because the predators in the desert are especially quick and intelligent

Because the inherent desolation of the desert ensures a lack of natural protection

Because the color of the desert is particularly suited to swift evolutionary adaptation

Because food is especially scarce in the desert

Because the color of the desert is similar to the natural colors of many animals

Correct answer:

Because the inherent desolation of the desert ensures a lack of natural protection

Explanation:

Answering this question requires you to pay attention to details and be able to interpret a small portion of text. In the relevant section, the author says, "in the desert, where neither trees, brushwood, nor even undulation of the surface afford the slightest protection to its foes, a modification of color assimilated to that of the surrounding country is absolutely necessary.” So, in the desert, there are no trees or changes in the surface of the earth to provide cover and protection (“inherent desolation”); therefore, it is especially vital for desert animals to mimic the color of their environment to ensure they can remain hidden.

Example Question #11 : Analyzing Passage Logic, Genre, And Organization In Science Passages

Adapted from "Comets" by Camille Flammarion in Wonders of Earth, Sea, and Sky (1902) edited by Edward Singleton Holden.

These tailed bodies, which suddenly come to light up the heavens, were for long regarded with terror, like so many warning signs of divine wrath. Men have always thought themselves much more important than they really are in the universal order; they have had the vanity to pretend that the whole creation was made for them, while in reality the whole creation does not suspect their existence. The Earth we inhabit is only one of the smallest worlds, and therefore it can scarcely be for it alone that all the wonders of the heavens, of which the immense majority remains hidden from it, were created. In this disposition of man to see in himself the center and the end of everything, it was easy indeed to consider the steps of nature as unfolded in his favor, and if some unusual phenomenon presented itself, it was considered to be without doubt a warning from Heaven.

If these illusions had had no other result than the amelioration of the more timorous of the community one would regret these ages of ignorance; not only were these fancied warnings of no use, seeing that once the danger passed, man returned to his former state, but they also kept up among people imaginary terrors, and revived the fatal resolutions caused by the fear of the end of the world.

When one fancies the world is about to end—and this has been believed for more than a thousand years—no solicitude is felt in the work of improving this world; by the indifference or disdain into which one falls, periods of famine and general misery are induced which at certain times have overtaken our community. Why use the wealth of a world which is going to perish? Why work, be instructed, or rise in the progress of the sciences or arts? Much better to forget the world, and absorb oneself in the barren contemplation of an unknown life. It is thus that ages of ignorance weigh on man, and thrust him further and further into darkness, while Science makes known by its influence on the whole community, its great value, and the magnitude of its aim.

The primary purpose of this passage is to __________.

Possible Answers:

explain the significance of comets to humanity

convince the reader of the benefits afforded to mankind by science

decry the influence of religion upon mankind

undermine the self-centered perspective of humanity

analyze the historical understanding of comets

Correct answer:

convince the reader of the benefits afforded to mankind by science

Explanation:

Although this passage primarily discusses the understanding of comets that has persisted in popular imagination throughout the recent centuries, the primary purpose is to convince the reader of the great damage done by superstition and the great benefit afforded by science. This is most clearly shown in the conclusion, where the author says that “it is thus that ages of ignorance weigh on man, and thrust him further and further into darkness, while Science makes known by its influence on the whole community, its great value, and the magnitude of its aim.” The discussion of comets may be seen as a means by which the author can introduce his argument to the reader that superstitious understanding is very damaging to mankind, and that scientific inquiry can remedy these centuries of destruction.

Example Question #71 : Content Of Natural Science Passages

Adapted from “Introduced Species That Have Become Pests” in Our Vanishing Wild Life, Its Extermination and Protection by William Temple Hornaday (1913)

The man who successfully transplants or "introduces" into a new habitat any persistent species of living thing assumes a very grave responsibility. Every introduced species is doubtful gravel until panned out. The enormous losses that have been inflicted upon the world through the perpetuation of follies with wild vertebrates and insects would, if added together, be enough to purchase a principality. The most aggravating feature of these follies in transplantation is that never yet have they been made severely punishable. We are just as careless and easygoing on this point as we were about the government of the Yellowstone Park in the days when Howell and other poachers destroyed our first national bison herd, and when caught red-handed—as Howell was, skinning seven Park bison cows—could not be punished for it, because there was no penalty prescribed by any law. Today, there is a way in which any revengeful person could inflict enormous damage on the entire South, at no cost to himself, involve those states in enormous losses and the expenditure of vast sums of money, yet go absolutely unpunished!

The gypsy moth is a case in point. This winged calamity was imported at Maiden, Massachusetts, near Boston, by a French entomologist, Mr. Leopold Trouvelot, in 1868 or 69. History records the fact that the man of science did not purposely set free the pest. He was endeavoring with live specimens to find a moth that would produce a cocoon of commercial value to America, and a sudden gust of wind blew out of his study, through an open window, his living and breeding specimens of the gypsy moth. The moth itself is not bad to look at, but its larvae is a great, overgrown brute with an appetite like a hog. Immediately Mr. Trouvelot sought to recover his specimens, and when he failed to find them all, like a man of real honor, he notified the State authorities of the accident. Every effort was made to recover all the specimens, but enough escaped to produce progeny that soon became a scourge to the trees of Massachusetts. The method of the big, nasty-looking mottled-brown caterpillar was very simple. It devoured the entire foliage of every tree that grew in its sphere of influence.

The gypsy moth spread with alarming rapidity and persistence. In course of time, the state authorities of Massachusetts were forced to begin a relentless war upon it, by poisonous sprays and by fire. It was awful! Up to this date (1912) the New England states and the United States Government service have expended in fighting this pest about $7,680,000!

The spread of this pest has been retarded, but the gypsy moth never will be wholly stamped out. Today it exists in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Hampshire, and it is due to reach New York at an early date. It is steadily spreading in three directions from Boston, its original point of departure, and when it strikes the State of New York, we, too, will begin to pay dearly for the Trouvelot experiment.

The main reason the author mentions Howell’s story is __________.

Possible Answers:

to attack Howell’s actions as reprehensible

to lament the loss of the United States’ first national bison herd

to argue for putting a fence up around Yellowstone National Park to keep out poachers

to provide an account that shows how bad it is that environmental offenders cannot be legally punished

to suggest that the loss of bison is a more important problem than those caused by the gypsy moth

Correct answer:

to provide an account that shows how bad it is that environmental offenders cannot be legally punished

Explanation:

This question may initially seem tricky because Howell’s story accomplishes many of the answer choices’ statements: the author does attack Howell’s actions as reprehensible, and he does lament the loss of the United States’ first national bison herd. However, this are consequences of the story, not reasons why the author brought it up in the first place. The only answer choice that explains why the author mentions the story is “to provide an account that shows how bad it is that environmental offenders cannot be legally punished,” so this is the correct answer.

Example Question #201 : Natural Science Passages

"Interpreting the Copernican Revolution" by Matthew Minerd (2014)

The expressions of one discipline can often alter the way that other subjects understand themselves. Among such cases are numbered the investigations of Nicolaus Copernicus. Copernicus is best known for his views concerning heliocentrism, a view which eventually obliterated many aspects of the ancient/medieval worldview, at least from the standpoint of physical science. It had always been the natural view of mankind that the earth stood at the center of the universe, a fixed point in reference to the rest of the visible bodies. The sun, stars, and planets all rotated around the earth.

With time, this viewpoint became one of the major reference points for modern life. It provided a provocative image that was used—and often abused—by many people for various purposes. For those who wished to weaken the control of religion on mankind, it was said that the heliocentric outlook proved man’s insignificance. In contrast with earlier geocentrism, heliocentrism was said to show that man is not the center of the universe. He is merely one small being in the midst of a large cosmos. However, others wished to use the “Copernican Revolution” in a very different manner. These thinkers wanted to show that there was another “recentering” that had to happen. Once upon a time, we talked about the world. Now, however, it was necessary to talk of man as the central reference point. Just as the solar system was “centered” on the sun, so too should the sciences be centered on the human person.

However, both of these approaches are fraught with problems. Those who wished to undermine the religious mindset rather misunderstood the former outlook on the solar system. The earlier geocentric mindset did not believe that the earth was the most important body in the heavens. Instead, many ancient and medieval thinkers believed that the highest “sphere” above the earth was the most important being in the physical universe. Likewise, the so-called “Copernican Revolution” in physics was different from the one applied to the human person. Copernicus’ revolution showed that the human point of view was not the center, whereas the later forms of “Copernican revolution” wished to show just the opposite.

Of course, there are many complexities in the history of such important changes in scientific outlook. Nevertheless, it is fascinating to see the wide-reaching effects of such discoveries, even when they have numerous, ambiguous effects.

What does the passage say was the overall effect of the scientific revolution implied in Copernicus' discoveries?

Possible Answers:

None of the other answers

It altered scientific reasoning significantly.

It forever destroyed the religious outlook on the world.

It eliminated the need for former modes of calculating celestial movements.

It had broad implications for the outlooks taken by people in many disciplines.

Correct answer:

It had broad implications for the outlooks taken by people in many disciplines.

Explanation:

Although Copernicus' discoveries had specific scientific effects, these are not the focus of this passage. From the very beginning of the selection, the passage is discussing the effects that it had on the outlook had by many people—particularly as regards the position of the human person in the cosmos. As always, stay as close to the passage as you can, otherwise you will convince yourself that another answer is possible.

Example Question #1 : Analyzing Cause And Effect In Science Passages

"Comparing Technologies: A Difficult Endeavor" by Matthew Minerd (2014)

Comparisons of technology are often difficult to make, not only because of the rapid pace of improvements but also because of the many new applications that are available as time progresses. If we were to consider the contemporary graphing calculator and the calculation capacities of computing machines from fifty years ago, there would be astounding improvements between these two devices. However, the improvements are not reduced merely to speed improvements. A graphing calculator also has numerous output capacities that far exceed those available much older computers, none of which had the ability to represent their output in any manner even closely resembling that of contemporary devices. Merely consider the display capacities of such a device. These enable users to input many new kinds of information, enabling design engineers to design new hardware functions to match the new means of collecting user input.

The situation is even more obvious when one considers the numerous functions performed by a modern “smartphone.” These devices are equipped with a panoply of features.  With all of these new functions come many new types of computational capabilities as well. In order to process images quickly, specialized hardware must be designed and software written for it in order to ensure that there are few issues with the phone’s operation. Indeed, the whole “real time” nature of telecommunications has exerted numerous pressures on the designers of computing devices. Layers of complexity, at all levels of production and development, are required to ensure that the phone can function in a synchronous manner. Gone are the days of asynchronous processing, when the computer user entered data into a mainframe, only to wait for a period of time before the processing results were provided. Today, even the smallest of digital devices must provide seamless service for users. The effects of this requirement are almost beyond number.

What is the effect of the features found on modern “smartphones”?

Possible Answers:

They require many new types of technological advancements to accommodate them.

They overwhelm the customer with options all on one screen.

They require increased memory capacities to accommodate their advancements.

They wear out old equipment, requiring newer, faster processors.

None of the other answers

Correct answer:

They require many new types of technological advancements to accommodate them.

Explanation:

Although the whole of the second paragraph helps to answer this question, a key sentence is, "With all of these new functions come many new types of computational capabilities as well." The effect of the new capabilities is to require many different kinds of new capabilities for the software and hardware of phones. That is, many new technological advances are required in order to make them possible and more efficient.

Example Question #1 : Main Idea, Details, Opinions, And Arguments In Narrative Science Passages

"Interpreting the Copernican Revolution" by Matthew Minerd (2014)

The expressions of one discipline can often alter the way that other subjects understand themselves. Among such cases are numbered the investigations of Nicolaus Copernicus. Copernicus is best known for his views concerning heliocentrism, a view which eventually obliterated many aspects of the ancient/medieval worldview, at least from the standpoint of physical science. It had always been the natural view of mankind that the earth stood at the center of the universe, a fixed point in reference to the rest of the visible bodies. The sun, stars, and planets all rotated around the earth.

With time, this viewpoint became one of the major reference points for modern life. It provided a provocative image that was used—and often abused—by many people for various purposes. For those who wished to weaken the control of religion on mankind, it was said that the heliocentric outlook proved man’s insignificance. In contrast with earlier geocentrism, heliocentrism was said to show that man is not the center of the universe. He is merely one small being in the midst of a large cosmos. However, others wished to use the “Copernican Revolution” in a very different manner. These thinkers wanted to show that there was another “recentering” that had to happen. Once upon a time, we talked about the world. Now, however, it was necessary to talk of man as the central reference point. Just as the solar system was “centered” on the sun, so too should the sciences be centered on the human person.

However, both of these approaches are fraught with problems. Those who wished to undermine the religious mindset rather misunderstood the former outlook on the solar system. The earlier geocentric mindset did not believe that the earth was the most important body in the heavens. Instead, many ancient and medieval thinkers believed that the highest “sphere” above the earth was the most important being in the physical universe. Likewise, the so-called “Copernican Revolution” in physics was different from the one applied to the human person. Copernicus’ revolution showed that the human point of view was not the center, whereas the later forms of “Copernican revolution” wished to show just the opposite.

Of course, there are many complexities in the history of such important changes in scientific outlook. Nevertheless, it is fascinating to see the wide-reaching effects of such discoveries, even when they have numerous, ambiguous effects.

What can we say of the effects of Copernicus’ discoveries on the reigning medieval way of looking at the world?

Possible Answers:

It completely discredited everything from the Middle Ages.

It questioned every received authority with detailed critiques.

It only effected the ideas concerning the human person in comparison with the vast universe.

It required significant changes in its natural science and its manner of considering the human person.

It had little effect in the final analysis.

Correct answer:

It required significant changes in its natural science and its manner of considering the human person.

Explanation:

Clearly, the theories of Copernicus had significant effects on the medieval mindset. Although the passage does not indicate that it required complete revision on every point, it does imply that it had an effect both on the medieval conception of the human person as well as its scientific conceptions of the world.

Example Question #1 : Analyzing Cause And Effect In Science Passages

"Darwinism's Effect on Science" by Matthew Minerd (2014)

For much of the history of human thought, the sciences have studied subjects that seemed to be eternal and unchanging. Even the basic laws of the Nile’s flooding were investigated in the hopes of finding never-altering laws. Similarly, the scientific investigations of the ancient Near East and Greece into the regular laws of the stars ultimately looked for constant patterns. This overall pattern of scientific reasoning has left deep marks on the minds of almost all thinkers and found its apotheosis in modern physics. From the time of the early renaissance to the nineteenth century, physics represented the ultimate expression of scientific investigation for almost all thinkers. Its static laws appeared to be the unchanging principles of all motion and life on earth. By the nineteenth century, it had appeared that only a few details had to be “cleared up” before all science was basically known.

In many ways, this situation changed dramatically with the arrival of Darwinism. It would change even more dramatically in early twentieth-century physics as well. Darwin’s theories of evolution challenged many aspects of the “static” worldview. Even those who did not believe that a divine being created an unchanging world were shaken by the new vistas opened up to science by his studies. It had been a long-accepted inheritance of Western culture to believe that the species of living organisms were unchanging in nature. Though there might be many different kinds of creatures, the kinds themselves were not believed to change. The thesis of a universal morphing of types shattered this cosmology, replacing the old world-view with a totally new one. Among the things that had to change in light of Darwin’s work was the very view of science held by most people.

Consider the underlined sentence. What was the new “cosmology” that arose after Darwin’s day?

Possible Answers:

None of the other answers

The belief that history was an important but secondary aspect of scientific studies.

The view of the world as a changing reality with its own historical nature.

A completely areligious outlook on life.

The view of the world as an unchanging whole to be investigated by science.

Correct answer:

The view of the world as a changing reality with its own historical nature.

Explanation:

Throughout the second paragraph, the passage discusses again the "static" nature of the former scientific outlook. The new worldview was quite different. You can guess at the meaning of "cosmology" by noticing the contrast between it and "universal morphing of types." A "cosmology" is a particular outlook on the world or reality as a whole. The passage implies that Darwin's work made it necessary to see the world as a changing whole with its own history.

Example Question #21 : Textual Relationships In Science Passages

Adapted from Volume Four of The Natural History of Animals: The Animal Life of the World in Its Various Aspects and Relations by James Richard Ainsworth Davis (1903)

The examples of protective resemblance so far quoted are mostly permanent adaptations to one particular sort of surrounding. There are, however, numerous animals which possess the power of adjusting their color more or less rapidly so as to harmonize with a changing environment.

Some of the best known of these cases are found among those mammals and birds that inhabit countries more or less covered with snow during a part of the year. A good instance is afforded by the Irish or variable hare, which is chiefly found in Ireland and Scotland. In summer, this looks very much like an ordinary hare, though rather grayer in tint and smaller in size, but in winter it becomes white with the exception of the black tips to the ears. Investigations that have been made on the closely allied American hare seem to show that the phenomenon is due to the growth of new hairs of white hue. 

The common stoat is subject to similar color change in the northern parts of its range. In summer it is of a bright reddish brown color with the exception of the under parts, which are yellowish white, and the end of the tail, which is black. But in winter, the entire coat, save only the tip of the tail, becomes white, and in that condition the animal is known as an ermine. A similar example is afforded by the weasel. The seasonal change in the vegetarian Irish hare is purely of protective character, but in such an actively carnivorous creature as a stoat or weasel, it is aggressive as well, rendering the animal inconspicuous to its prey.

Based on the passage, which of the following can we infer would be the best reason for animals living in variable arctic environments to change their fur color?

Possible Answers:

They would more easily be able to attract a mate.

They would be more difficult to see when surrounded by snow.

They would be warmer.

They would be able to find food more quickly and easily.

They would be faster.

Correct answer:

They would be more difficult to see when surrounded by snow.

Explanation:

If animals that live in arctic environments change their fur color, it is likely a seasonal change from brownish fur to predominantly white fur, as we’ve seen in the examples of the Irish hare, the stoat, and the weasel. What is specific about arctic environments? Thy likely involve a lot of snow, and are quite cold. Changing fur color to white would thus blend in with the snow and make an animal harder to see, as the last sentence suggests in saying that “in such an actively carnivorous creature as a stoat or weasel, [color change] is aggressive as well, rendering the animal inconspicuous to its prey.” we’re not told anything in the passage that would support the assertion that it would make the animal warmer, or that would support any of the other answer choices.

Example Question #71 : Science Passages

Adapted from Cassell’s Natural History by Francis Martin Duncan (1913)

The penguins are a group of birds inhabiting the southern ocean, for the most part passing their lives in the icy waters of the Antarctic seas. Like the ratitae, penguins have lost the power of flight, but the wings are modified into swimming organs and the birds lead an aquatic existence and are scarcely seen on land except in the breeding season. They are curious-looking creatures that appear to have no legs, as the limbs are encased in the skin of the body and the large flat feet are set so far back that the birds waddle along on land in an upright position in a very ridiculous manner, carrying their long narrow flippers held out as if they were arms. When swimming, penguins use their wings as paddles while the feet are used for steering.

Penguins are usually gregarious—in the sea, they swim together in schools, and on land, assemble in great numbers in their rookeries. They are very methodical in their ways, and on leaving the water, the birds always follow well-defined tracks leading to the rookeries, marching with much solemnity one behind the other in soldierly order. 

The largest species of penguins are the king penguin and the emperor penguin, the former being found in Kerguelen Land, the Falklands, and other southern islands, and the latter in Victoria Land and on the pack ice of the Antarctic seas. As they are unaccustomed from the isolation of their haunts to being hunted and persecuted by man, emperor penguins are remarkably fearless, and Antarctic explorers invading their territory have found themselves objects of curiosity rather than fear to the strange birds who followed them about as if they were much astonished at their appearance. 

The emperor penguin lays but a single egg and breeds during the intense cold and darkness of the Antarctic winter. To prevent contact with the frozen snow, the bird places its egg upon its flat webbed feet and crouches down upon it so that it is well covered with the feathers. In spite of this precaution, many eggs do not hatch and the mortality amongst the young chicks is very great.

According to the passage, why does the emperor penguin keep its egg balanced on its feet and covered by its feathers?

Possible Answers:

So that predators will not see it and try to eat it

So that other penguins won’t try to steal it

So it won’t roll into the ocean

So that it won’t touch the snow and get too cold

The author is not sure why Emperor penguins do this.

Correct answer:

So that it won’t touch the snow and get too cold

Explanation:

The author discusses these behaviors of the emperor penguin in the passage’s last paragraph:

“To prevent contact with the frozen snow, the bird places its egg upon its flat webbed feet and crouches down upon it so that it is well covered with the feathers.” 

The first part of the sentence is most important to answering this question correctly, as it tells us why the emperor penguins are motivated to act this way: “To prevent contact with the frozen snow.” This means that while many of the answer choices sound reasonable, the correct answer is that the emperor penguin protects its egg in the specified ways “so that it won’t touch the snow and get too cold.”

Example Question #1 : Analyzing Cause And Effect In Natural Science Passages

Adapted from “Feathers of Sea Birds and Wild Fowl for Bedding” from The Utility of Birds by Edward Forbush (ed. 1922)

In the colder countries of the world, the feathers and down of waterfowl have been in great demand for centuries as filling for beds and pillows. Such feathers are perfect non-conductors of heat, and beds, pillows, or coverlets filled with them represent the acme of comfort and durability. The early settlers of New England saved for such purposes the feathers and down from the thousands of wild-fowl which they killed, but as the population increased in numbers, the quantity thus furnished was insufficient, and the people sought a larger supply in the vast colonies of ducks and geese along the Labrador coast. 

The manner in which the feathers and down were obtained, unlike the method practiced in Iceland, did not tend to conserve and protect the source of supply. In Iceland, the people have continued to receive for many years a considerable income by collecting eider down, but there they do not “kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.” Ducks line their nests with down plucked from their own breasts and that of the eider is particularly valuable for bedding. In Iceland, these birds are so carefully protected that they have become as tame and unsuspicious as domestic fowls In North America. Where they are constantly hunted they often conceal their nests in the midst of weeds or bushes, but in Iceland, they make their nests and deposit their eggs in holes dug for them in the sod. A supply of the ducks is maintained so that the people derive from them an annual income.

In North America, quite a different policy was pursued. The demand for feathers became so great in the New England colonies about the middle of the eighteenth century that vessels were fitted out there for the coast of Labrador for the express purpose of securing the feathers and down of wild fowl. Eider down having become valuable and these ducks being in the habit of congregating by thousands on barren islands of the Labrador coast, the birds became the victims of the ships’ crews. As the ducks molt all their primary feathers at once in July or August and are then quite incapable of flight and the young birds are unable to fly until well grown, the hunters were able to surround the helpless birds, drive them together, and kill them with clubs. Otis says that millions of wildfowl were thus destroyed and that in a few years their haunts were so broken up by this wholesale slaughter and their numbers were so diminished that feather voyages became unprofitable and were given up. 

This practice, followed by the almost continual egging, clubbing, shooting, etc. by Labrador fishermen, may have been a chief factor in the extinction of the Labrador duck, that species of supposed restricted breeding range. No doubt had the eider duck been restricted in its breeding range to the islands of Labrador, it also would have been exterminated long ago.

Which of the following did NOT contribute to the success and profitability of the Labrador feather voyages?

Possible Answers:

Ducks gathered in great numbers on islands on the coast of Labrador

After the ducks being hunted lost their feathers, they could not fly

Fledgling ducks cannot fly

The ducks hunted lost all of their main feathers at one time in the summer

When hunted, ducks attempt to conceal their nests in the surrounding vegetation.

Correct answer:

When hunted, ducks attempt to conceal their nests in the surrounding vegetation.

Explanation:

In the passage’s third paragraph, the author writes, “As the ducks molt all their primary feathers at once in July or August and are then quite incapable of flight and the young birds are unable to fly until well grown, the hunters were able to surround the helpless birds drive them together and kill them with clubs.” This sentence tells readers that the Labrador feather voyages were helped by the fact that “ducks lose all their feathers at one time in the summer,” “after the ducks being hunted lost their feathers, they could not fly,” and “fledgling ducks cannot fly,” so none of these answer choices can be correct. This leaves us with the answer choices “Ducks gathered in great numbers on islands on the coast of Labrador” and “When hunted, ducks attempt to conceal their nests in the surrounding vegetation.” The latter of these is the correct answer; the fact that “Ducks gathered in great numbers on islands on the coast of Labrador” helped the voyages profit, but “When hunted, ducks attempt to conceal their nests in the surrounding vegetation” has nothing to do with the Labrador feather voyages. This detail is presented when describing the Icelandic practices of gathering eider down, and at any rate, would not be helpful to the voyages, as the ducks would hide their nests and likely themselves.

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