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Economist Reading Comprehension Challenge #8

Economist Reading Comprehension Challenge #8

Hyena butter? Bacteria controlling Hyena societies? This is pretty unbelievable. It is almost science fiction. Needless to say that I enjoyed the article and made an RC challenge. Welcome to the 8th installment of the Economist Reading Comprehension Challenge. If you're just getting started you might want to start with a primer on using the Economist to improve GMAT Reading Comprehension.

Spot the difference

The Article:

1. What is the main idea of the passage?

A.  Chemicals messengers form an integral part of interspecies communication in Hyena groups.

B.  It has been shown that certain Hyenas convey complex messages of their well being through a chemical transmitter known as Hyena Butter.

C.  Long thought only a chemical messenger used by the more social spotted Hyenas, Hyena Butter has also been shown to be used by the more solitary striped Hyenas.

D.  A recent study has found that Hyenas can communicate via a chemical messenger which can vary according to species, clan association, sex, and reproductive status and that the chemical messenger is produced by bacteria living in the Hyenas.

E.  Bacteria play a central role in the communication between Hyenas although the connection between the Hyena’s and the bacteria remains unclear.

2. What is the primary purpose of the this passage?

A. To analyze a scientific study on the origin of a chemical messenger used in Hyena groups.

B.  To confirm a long held scientific belief regarding the differences between social and solitary Hyenas.

C.  To present new information on the role of and the mechanics of a chemical transmitter used by Hyenas

D.  To discuss a direction for future research regarding groups dynamics between social and solitary Hyena species.

E.  To analyze the data from a study on a chemical transmitter used by Hyenas.

3. According the passage the author would most likely agree with which one of the following statements:

A. It is unclear what the clan identity scent is used for

B. The Hyena’s may produce many chemical messages the purpose of which we have yet to understand

C.  Although the general process by which the bacteria create the specific amino acids that make up Hyena Butter is not well understood, the communication between a Hyena and its bacteria has been thoroughly explained.

D. The evolution of the bacteria is essential to understanding how the the system as whole evolved.

E.  It is likely that there are more fatty acids produced by the bacteria that are yet to be discovered.

4. Which of the following statements can be reasonably inferred from the passage?

A. Most Hyena societies are female dominated.

B.  Every species of Hyena has it’s own distinct basic odor.

C. The clan-identity scent is most likely used so that Hyenas from the same clan can recognize each other

D. Although spotted Hyenas have pouches with a greater variety of bacteria, the striped Hyenas can produce the same amount of amino acids as the spotted Hyenas can.

E.  Scientists have more accurate genetic sampling techniques than culturing on agar plates.

5. Which of the following best describes the function of the first paragraph?

A.  To present a question which the rest of the passage attempts to answer

B.  To describe the methods by which a scientific study was conducted

C.  To present a new theory with which the author agrees

D.  To provide background information about a study which the passage as a whole presents.

E.  To illustrate an inherent problem in a method of reasoning

6. Which of the following statements is best supported by the passage:

A.  A more social animal would be expected to live in a larger group than a less social animal

B.  The fact that the spotted Hyenas had a more complex set of messages was not unexpected.

C. The difference in the subtlety of the messages between spotted and striped Hyenas has more to do with our inability to identify all of the fatty acids involved in the Hyena communication that in the actual messages themselves.

D.  A majority of Hyenas have at least two odors with distinct messages about their personal identity and their clan identity.

E.  A Hyena conveying a more complex chemical message will generally use a butter composed of a greater variety of fatty acids.



1. D

2. C
3. B
4. E
5. D

6. B

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