GRE Reading Comprehension

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Source: BOOST

Anthropologists who study orangutans, distant cousins of the human race, find in the animals' behavior hints of how our earliest ancestors may have lived. It has long been accepted that primates originally dwelt in the treetops and only migrated to the ground as forests began to dwindle. While to a certain extent all primates except humans spend at least some time dwelling in trees, the orangutan hardly ever ventures to the forest floor. Adult orangutans can grow as heavy as 330 pounds and live for decades, requiring copious amounts of fruit simply to stay alive. Thus, they become very jealous of the territory where they find their food. Compounding this territoriality are the breeding habits of orangutans, since females can only breed every few years and, like humans, give birth not to litters but single offspring.

Consequently, orangutans are solitary, territorial animals who have difficulty foraging in any part of the forest where they were not raised. Orangutans taken from poachers by customs agents undergo incredible hardship on their return to the wild. Incorrectly relocating a male orangutan is especially problematic, often ending in the animal's death at the hands of a rival who sees not only his territory but also the females of his loosely knit community under threat from an outsider. While humans, like chimpanzees, are more gregarious and resourceful than orangutans, the latter provide anthropologists with useful information about the behavior of pre-hominid primates and how apelike behavior influenced our ancestors' search for food and family beneath the forest's canopy.

Question List: 1 2

The author of the passage discusses "orangutans taken from poachers" in order to

  • A stress the importance of preserving orangutans as a species
  • B indicate the widespread practice of animal poaching
  • C refute the theory that orangutans can live in a variety of environments
  • D contrast the behavior of orangutans with that of other apes
  • E emphasize the consequences of orangutan territoriality

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