GRE Reading Comprehension

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Source: XDF

One of the questions of interest in the study of the evolution of spiders is whether the weaving of orb webs evolved only once or several times. About half the 35,000 known kinds of spiders make webs; a third of the web weavers make orb webs. Since most orb weavers belong either to the Araneidae or the Uloboridae families, the origin of the orb web can be determined only by ascertaining whether the families are related.

Recent taxonomic analysis of individuals from both families indicates that the families evolved from different ancestors, thereby contradicting Wiehle's theory. This theory postulates that the families must be related, based on the assumption that complex behavior, such as web building, could evolve only once. According to Kullman, web structure is the only characteristic that suggests a relationship between families. The families differ in appearance, structure of body hair, and arrangement of eyes. Only Uloborids lack venom glands. Further identification and study of characteristic features will undoubtedly answer the question of the evolution of the orb web.

Question List: 1 2 3

The primary purpose of the passage is to

  • A settle the question of whether orb webs evolved once or more than once
  • B describe scientific speculation concerning an issue related to the evolution of orb webs
  • C analyze the differences between the characteristic features of spiders in the Araneidae and Uloboridae families
  • D question the methods used by earlier investigators of the habits of spiders
  • E demonstrate that Araneidae spiders are not related to Uloboridae spiders

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