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  Ant Intelligence

  When we think of intelligent members of the animal kingdom, the creatures that spring immediately to mind are apes and monkeys. But in fact the social lives of some members of the insect kingdom are sufficiently complex to suggest more than a hint of intelligence. Among these, the world of the ant has come in for considerable scrutiny lately, and the idea that ants demonstrate sparks of cognition has certainly not been rejected by those involved in these investigations.

  Ants store food, repel attackers and use chemical signals to contact one another in case of attack. Such chemical communication can be compared to the human use of visual and auditory channels (as in religious chants, advertising images and jingles, political slogans and martial music) to arouse and propagate moods and attitudes. The biologist Lewis Thomas wrote, ‘Ants are so much like human beings as to be an embarrassment. They farm fungi, raise aphids* as livestock, launch armies to war, use chemical sprays to alarm and confuse enemies, capture slaves, engage in child labour, exchange information ceaselessly. They do everything but watch television.’

  However, in ants there is no cultural transmission — everything must be encoded in the genes — whereas in humans the opposite is true. Only basic instincts are carried in the genes of a newborn baby, other skills being learned from others in the community as the child grows up. It may seem that this cultural continuity gives us a huge advantage over ants. They have never mastered fire nor progressed. Their fungus farming and aphid herding crafts are sophisticated when compared to the agricultural skills of humans five thousand years ago but have been totally overtaken by modern human agribusiness.

  Or have they? The farming methods of ants are at least sustainable. They do not ruin environments or use enormous amounts of energy. Moreover, recent evidence suggests that the crop farming of ants may be more sophisticated and adaptable than was thought.

  Ants were farmers fifty million years before humans were. Ants can’t digest the cellulose in leaves — but some fungi can. The ants therefore cultivate these fungi in their nests, bringing them leaves to feed on, and then use them as a source of food. Farmer ants secrete antibiotics to control other fungi that might act as ‘weeds’, and spread waste to fertilise the crop.

  It was once thought that the fungus that ants cultivate was a single type that they had propagated, essentially unchanged from the distant past. Not so. Ulrich Mueller of Maryland and his colleagues genetically screened 862 different types of fungi taken from ants’ nests. These turned out to be highly diverse: it seems that ants are continually domesticating new species. Even more impressively, DNA analysis of the fungi suggests that the ants improve or modify the fungi by regularly swapping and sharing strains with neighbouring ant colonies.

  Whereas prehistoric man had no exposure to urban lifestyles — the forcing house of intelligence — the evidence suggests that ants have lived in urban settings for close on a hundred million years, developing and maintaining underground cities of specialised chambers and tunnels.

  When we survey Mexico City, Tokyo, Los Angeles, we are amazed at what has been accomplished by humans. Yet Hoelldobler and Wilson’s magnificent work for ant lovers, The Ants, describes a supercolony of the ant Formica yessensis on the Ishikari Coast of Hokkaido. This ‘megalopolis’ was reported to be composed of 360 million workers and a million queens living in 4,500 interconnected nests across a territory of 2.7 square kilometres.

  Such enduring and intricately meshed levels of technical achievement outstrip by far anything achieved by our distant ancestors. We hail as masterpieces the cave paintings in southern France and elsewhere, dating back some 20,000 years. Ant societies existed in something like their present form more than seventy million years ago. Beside this, prehistoric man looks technologically primitive. Is this then some kind of intelligence, albeit of a different kind?

  Research conducted at Oxford, Sussex and Zurich Universities has shown that when desert ants return from a foraging trip, they navigate by integrating bearings and distances, which they continuously update in their heads. They combine the evidence of visual landmarks with a mental library of local directions, all within a framework which is consulted and updated. So ants can learn too.



  And in a twelve-year programme of work, Ryabko and Reznikova have found evidence that ants can transmit very complex messages. Scouts who had located food in a maze returned to mobilise their foraging teams. They engaged in contact sessions, at the end of which the scout was removed in order to observe what her team might do. Often the foragers proceeded to the exact spot in the maze where the food had been. Elaborate precautions were taken to prevent the foraging team using odour clues. Discussion now centres on whether the route through the maze is communicated as a ‘left-right’ sequence of turns or as a ‘compass bearing and distance’ message.

  During the course of this exhaustive study, Reznikova has grown so attached to her laboratory ants that she feels she knows them as individuals — even without the paint spots used to mark them. It’s no surprise that Edward Wilson, in his essay, ‘In the company of ants’, advises readers who ask what to do with the ants in their kitchen to: ‘Watch where you step. Be careful of little lives.’

  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

  TRUE if the statement agrees with the information

  FALSE if the statement contradicts the information

  NOT GIVEN if there is no information on this

  1 Ants use the same channels of communication as humans do.

  2 City life is one factor that encourages the development of intelligence.

  3 Ants can build large cities more quickly than humans do.

  4 Some ants can find their way by making calculations based on distance and position.

  5 In one experiment, foraging teams were able to use their sense of smell to find food.

  6 The essay, ‘In the company of ants’, explores ant communication.

  Questions 7-13

  Complete the summary using the list of words, A-O, below.

  Write the correct letter, A-O, in boxes 7-13 on your answer sheet.

  Ants as farmers

  Ants have sophisticated methods of farming, including herding livestock and growing crops, which are in many ways similar to those used in human agriculture. The ants cultivate a large number of different species of edible fungi which convert 7..............into a form which they can digest. They use their own natural 8..............as weed-killers and also use unwanted materials as 9.............. . Genetic analysis shows they constantly upgrade these fungi by developing new species and by 10..............species with neighbouring ant colonies. In fact, the farming methods of ants could be said to be more advanced than human agribusiness, since they use 11..............methods, they do not affect the 12..............and do not waste 13.............. .

  A aphids B agricultural C cellulose D exchanging

  E energy F fertilizers G food H fungi

  I growing J interbreeding K natural L other speces

  M secretions N sustainable O environment


  Question 1


  关键词:1400 years

  定位原文: 第1段第2句:“Records show that only two have collapsed during the last 1400 years.” 有记录显示,在过去1400年间,只有两座倒塌了。

  解题思路: 使用1400 years定位到第一段第二句,该句明确表明1400年间只有两座日本宝塔倒塌

  Question 2


  关键词:1995, Toji temple

  定位原文: 第1段最后1句: “Yet it led the magnificent five-storey pagoda ...” 尽管大地震将京部附近东寺周围的大量建筑夷为平地,可寺里宏伟的五层宝塔却完好无损。

  解题思路: 本题的考点在于要将原文中的leave...unscathed同题干中的destroy对立起来。unscathed指“没有负伤的,未受损伤的”,这样就与题干中的destroy(毁坏)相抵触。

  Question 3


  关键词:30 years

  定位原文: 第2段第2句: “It was only thirty years ago that…” 仅仅在 30 年前,建筑界的从业者们才有足够信心建造髙于十二层的钢筋混凝土办公大楼。

  解题思路: 这句话与此题的唯一联系就是这个thirty years,抛开这一点,两者简直是牛头不对马嘴。即使读完全段,也未见题干中所表达的意思,而且the other buildings near the Toji pagoda的勉强对等成分也出现在第一段a number of buildings in the neighbourhood。一道题目的主要成分零散在文中数段,这就是典型的形散神必散型的NOT GIVEN。



  Question 4

  答案: YES

  关键词: builders, weather

  定位原文: 第3段倒数第2句:“Clearly, Japanese carpenters of the day knew ...” 显而易见,当时的日本木匠懂得一些窍门让建筑物可以顺风摇摆,不与自然力量对抗,而是顺应自然,从而稳稳矗立。

  解题思路: 题干中的absorb本指“吸收”,所谓吸收极端天气的能量,其实就是为了避免极端天气如地震等的破坏。文中提到 allow a building to sway and settle itself rather than fight nature's force, nature's force 其实就是题干中的the power produced by severe weather conditions, absorb对应rather than fight,不抵抗自然之力,而是顺其自然,通过摇摆而稳稳站立住了。

  Question 5

  答案: B

  关键词:interior access to top

  定位原文: 第4段第3、4句:“The Chinese built their pagodas.... When the pagoda reached Japan...the staircase was dispensed with...” 中国人用砖石造塔,内设楼梯……当宝塔到达日本,日本人加以改进,楼梯被弃用了……

  解题思路: 很明显,只有中国的塔有楼梯,也就能方便地到达顶层;日本宝塔没有楼梯,谈何容易到达顶层呢? staircase楼梯,引申一下,就是中国宝塔的特点就是人们很容易就能登上塔顶。所以答案为B。

  Question 6

  答案: A

  关键词:tiles on eaves

  定位原文: 用 tile 一词定位到第5段第2句:“For the same reason, the builders of Japanese ...” 出于同样的原因,日本宝塔的建造者们通过采用较重的陶瓦来覆盖这些延伸的屋檐从而大大增加自身的重量,而不像许多中国宝塔那样采用瓷瓦。

  解题思路: 这句话表明不管是日本塔还是中国塔,屋檐上当然都盖着瓦,只是所用的瓦材质不同而已。所以答案是A。

  Question 7


  关键词: observation post

  定位原文: 第4段第3、4句:“The Chinese...used them in later centuries mainly as watchtowers. When the pagoda reached Japan, ...the staircase was dispensed...” 中国人……后来这些宝塔就主要用作守望塔。然而当这些宝塔传入日本时,……日本宝塔没有什么实用性,更多是当作艺术品,所以没有楼梯。

  解题思路: 中国人将塔用作守望塔,watchtower就等同于observation post,而日本人仅仅将塔作为艺术品来看待,并无实际用途,当然不会当守望塔用。答案当然是B

  Question 8


  关键词:eave,half the width of the building

  定位原文:第5段第1句: “The roof of a Japanese temple building can be made to…”

  解题思路: 联系上一段最后一句:Pagodas in China and Korea have nothing like the overhang that is found on pagodas in Japan. 两句综合在一起,表明只有日本宝塔有悬空的屋檐,而且日本寺庙建筑的屋檐悬于建筑物的侧面之外部分的宽度可以达到建筑物总宽的一半或更多。因此屋檐宽度超过建筑物宽度一半的当然只有日本宝塔了。

  Question 9


  关键词: religious

  定位原文: 第4段第2句:“As in China, they were first introduced with Buddhism…” 像在中国一样,它们最初是随着佛教而被引进的……

  解题思路: Buddhism佛教,对应题干的 religious as in China中的as表示“正如”,证明日本塔和中国塔都有宗教功能。所以答案是A。

  Question 10

  答案: C

  关键词: floors, loosely over each other

  定位原文: 第8段倒数第3句 “More surprising is fact that …” 更令人惊讶的是日本宝塔的每一个单独楼层间实际上都不相连,这一点不同于其他任何地方的同类建筑。它们就像一摞帽子一样只是被一层一层地叠加起来。

  解题思路: unlike their counterparts再次强调这是日本塔所特有的,stack对应fitting,帽子的比喻表明楼层之间是松散地建造在一起的,所以答案为C。

  Question 11

  答案: D


  定位原文: 第7段最后1句:The shinbashira, ...constrained individual storeys from moving too far...

  解题思路: 第6段第4句:...the shinbashira actually carries no load at all. 这句话直接否定了答案A。第5句:In fact, ...it does not even rest on the ground...(甚至不碰触地面),既然不碰触地面,也就无法连接楼层和地基了。答案C不可能。like a tall pine tree出现在第6段第2句,但是很快被作者用but the answer is not so simple给否定掉了,再说B 答案又是对这一句话的添油加醋,所以也不可能是答案。这样,即使只用排除法,也可以确定答案是D。

  Question 12

  答案: C

  关键词:Shuzo Ishida

  定位原文: 第7段第3句: “…his passion to understand the pagoda,has built a series of...”

  解题思路: 根据文章对shinbashira描述,知道人们一直认为其承担了宝塔的重量,也就是C所指的力学,教授做实验也是为了验证这一说法,这就对应了选项C。

  Question 13



  定位原文: 第8段第3、4句: “More surprising is fact that the individual storeys…” 更令人惊讶的是日本宝塔的每一个单独楼层间实际上都不相连,这一点不同于其他任何地方的同类建筑。它们就像一摞帽子一样只是被一层一层地叠加起来。



  解题思路: 题目:日本宝塔的各个楼层是

  A仅用木头连接的。 C松松地彼此堆叠在一起。

  B仅仅固定在中柱上。 D由特殊的重物相连。


  以上是智课网为大家分享的雅思阅读考前练习:Ant Intelligence!希望大家能够认真的进行练习。