Evolution Trivia Quiz
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This old planet
Evolution, the story of life on our planet, began not long after the Earth itself was formed — at least, not long in geological terms. About how long ago did the Earth form?
B) Close to 3 billion years
C) Roughly 4.5 billion years
D) Upwards of 6 billion years
In the 1920s, biologists Oparin and Haldane proposed that the atmosphere of the young Earth, rich in methane and ammonia but poor in oxygen, provided the right conditions for life to take hold. Just one problem with that, however:
B) Life on Earth was actually seeded by organic molecules from space
C) Methane has now been shown to suppress evolutionary development
D) The atmosphere of early Earth wasn’t like that at all
Which of the following types of organism has the closest evolutionary relationship to human beings?
Which major plant group was the last to appear in the evolutionary record?
At the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, petroleum seeps out of the earth to form tar pools. In ancient times, many animals blundered into the tar and were trapped and died, only to be preserved by the tar for study by modern scientists. Which spectacular fossil type is common at La Brea?
B) Deinonychus, a fast-moving carnivorous dinosaur
C) Glyptodon, a car-sized armadillo
D) Smilodon, the sabre-toothed cat
Every dog has his theory
In the 1860s, following the publication Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species and the birth of a new era in biology, brilliant English scientist Thomas Huxley was known as “Darwin’s bulldog”. Why?
B) Because his loyalty to Darwin allowed for no criticism at all
C) Because he attacked Darwin’s positions at every opportunity
D) Because his speaking style was said to resemble a dog’s barking
Mitchondria doing what they do
Storing genetic information is the function of DNA, most of which is found in the chromosomes of the cell nucleus. Some DNA is also found outside the cell nucleus in the mitochondria, small rod-shaped bodies found in most cells of the body. What is the main function of mitochondria?
B) To maintain the salinity and moisture content of the cell at optimum levels
C) To provide the chemical energy that powers cellular processes
D) To serve as a genetic back-up when key genes in the nucleus are damaged
Between one thing and another
Some famous fossils are known as “transitional forms”: they exhibit some features like those of a later group while retaining features of an ancestral one. One such fossil, Tiktaalik, was discovered in northern Canada in 2004. What transition does Tiktaalik represent?
B) From early hoofed mammals to whales
C) From free-swimming fish to bottom-dwelling flatfish
D) From lobe-finned fishes to four-limbed animals
But what about the human eye?
It might seem that complex structures like the eye, with its intricate interrelated parts, each necessary to the whole, simply could not have arisen by a series of random mutations. According to scientists who have studied the matter, however:
B) It is safe to assume that an undiscovered principle makes such development possible
C) Over many eons, some improbable developments like eyes are bound to occur
D) The great usefulness of a fully evolved eye imposed strong pressure to develop it
Potholes on the road of life
The suffering of a single animal may evoke a powerful empathetic response in our own kind. Think, then, on those occasions in Earth’s history when most entire species were obliterated in a short time. Which of the following mass extinction events was the most destructive?
B) End of the Triassic Period, 200 million years ago
C) End of the Permian Period, 251 million years ago
D) End of the Ordovician Period, 444 million years ago
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