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Woolly Mammoths Extinct Due to Lack of Grass (18th August, 2010)


 

Scientists have come up with a new theory on why woolly mammoths became extinct 21,000 years ago. Up until now, people have believed that mammoths, the 3-metre-high relatives of elephants, died out because they were hunted to extinction. New research shows they ran out of grass, and that was caused by global warming 21 millennia ago. Researchers from the UK’s Durham University suggest the hairy dinosaurs starved to death because forests took over the grasslands they needed to survive. As the Earth became warmer and wetter, forests spread and the mammoth had fewer areas to graze. "Mammoths had roamed and munched their way across many parts of Europe," said lead researcher Professor Brian Huntley.

Professor Huntley said what happened to the mammoths in prehistoric times is a warning of what might happen in the future to today’s large herbivores. “This was a time of major environmental change and losses of habitat that may have led to the extinction of…mega-species that roamed many parts of the planet,” he said. He had a warning about the plight of today’s large animals: "It is food for thought in these times of global warming and human-induced habitat change." Other creatures also to become extinct due to climate change were the cave lion, giant deer, woolly rhino and the cave bear. The research team believe today’s elephants and rhinoceroses could suffer a similar fate.


 
 

WARM-UPS

1. EXTINCTION: Walk around the class and talk to other students about extinction. Change partners often. Sit with your first partner(s) and share your findings.

2. CHAT: In pairs / groups, decide which of these topics or words from the article are most interesting and which are most boring.

 

scientists / extinct / relatives / research / global warming / dinosaurs / forests / prehistoric times / herbivores / habitat / habitat / creatures / elephants / rhinoceros

Have a chat about the topics you liked. Change topics and partners frequently.

3. DYING OUT: How bad would it be if these creatures died out? Complete this table with your partner(s). Change partners and share what you wrote. Change and share again.

 

How bad?

Elephants

 

Pandas

 

Frogs

 

Pigeons

 

Ants

 

Dolphins

 

4. EXTINCT: Students A strongly believe it would be a good idea to bring extinct species back to life; Students B strongly believe that’s a terrible idea.  Change partners again and talk about your conversations.

5. FACTORS: Which of these are most responsible for the extinction of animals? Rank them and share your rankings with your partner. Put the most responsible at the top. Change partners and share your rankings again.

  • Hunting
  • Other animals
  • Climate change
  • Pollution
  • Deforestation
  • Zoos
  • Introduced species
  • Disease

6. ELEPHANTS: Spend one minute writing down all of the different words you associate with the word ‘elephants’. Share your words with your partner(s) and talk about them. Together, put the words into different categories.


 
 

BEFORE READING / LISTENING

1. TRUE / FALSE: Read the headline. Guess if  a-h  below are true (T) or false (F).

a.

Woolly mammoths became extinct around 200,000 years ago.

T / F

b.

There is no biological relationship between mammoths and elephants.

T / F

c.

Scientists say mammoths died because forests replaced grasslands.

T / F

d.

Mammoths lived in many parts of Europe.

T / F

e.

A professor said what happened in prehistory could happen again.

T / F

f.

The professor said habitat loss definitely killed off many species.

T / F

g.

The professor said the animals needed a lot of food to be able to think.

T / F

h.

Researchers believe elephants might be in danger.

T / F

2. SYNONYM MATCH: Match the following synonyms from the article.

1.

come up with

a.

vanished

2

theory

b.

destiny

3.

died out

c.

chewed

4.

starved

d.

hypothesis

5.

munched

e.

wandered

6.

warning

f.

considerable

7.

major

g.

discovered

8.

roamed

h.

animals

9.

creatures

i.

caution

10.

fate

j.

died of hunger

3. PHRASE MATCH:  (Sometimes more than one choice is possible.)

1.

come up with

a.

habitat

2

hunted to

b.

ago

3.

21 millennia

c.

death

4.

starved to

d.

today’s large animals

5.

the mammoth had fewer

e.

extinction

6.

prehistoric

f.

to climate change

7.

losses of

g.

fate

8.

the plight of

h.

a new theory

9.

become extinct due

i.

times

10.

suffer a similar

j.

areas to graze

 

WHILE READING / LISTENING

GAP FILL: Put the words into the gaps in the text.

Scientists have come up with a new ____________ on why woolly mammoths became extinct 21,000 years ago. Up until now, people have believed that mammoths, the 3-metre-high ____________ of elephants, died out because they were ____________ to extinction. New research shows they ran out of grass, and that was ____________ by global warming 21 millennia ago. Researchers from the UK’s Durham University suggest the hairy dinosaurs ____________ to death because forests took over the grasslands they needed to ____________. As the Earth became warmer and wetter, forests spread and the mammoth had ____________ areas to graze. "Mammoths had roamed and munched their way across many ____________ of Europe," said lead researcher Professor Brian Huntley.

 

 

 

hunted
parts
relatives
starved
fewer
theory
caused
survive

Professor Huntley said what happened to the mammoths in prehistoric times is a ____________ of what might happen in the future to today’s large herbivores. “This was a time of ____________ environmental change and ____________ of habitat that may have led to the extinction of…mega-species that ____________ many parts of the planet,” he said. He had a warning about the ____________ of today’s large animals: "It is food for thought in these times of global warming and ____________ -induced habitat change." Other creatures also to become extinct ____________ to climate change were the cave lion, giant deer, woolly rhino and the cave bear. The research team believe today’s elephants and rhinoceroses could suffer a ____________ fate.

 

 

similar
major
roamed
human
warning
due
losses
plight

LISTENING – Listen and fill in the gaps

Scientists ______________________ new theory on why woolly mammoths became extinct 21,000 years ago. Up until now, people have believed that mammoths, the 3-______________________ of elephants, died out because they were hunted to extinction. New research ______________________ grass, and that was caused by global warming 21 millennia ago. Researchers from the UK’s Durham University suggest the hairy dinosaurs ______________________ because forests took over the grasslands they needed to survive. As the Earth became warmer and wetter, forests spread and the mammoth had ______________________. "Mammoths had roamed ______________________ across many parts of Europe," said lead researcher Professor Brian Huntley.

Professor Huntley said ______________________ mammoths in prehistoric times is a warning of what might happen in the future to today’s large herbivores. “This ______________________ environmental change and losses of habitat that may have led to the extinction of…mega-species that ______________________ the planet,” he said. He had a warning about the plight of today’s large animals: "It is ______________________ these times of global warming and human-induced habitat change." Other creatures also to become extinct ______________________ were the cave lion, giant deer, woolly rhino and the cave bear. The research team believe today’s elephants and rhinoceroses ______________________ fate.


 
 

AFTER READING / LISTENING

1. WORD SEARCH: Look in your dictionary / computer to find collocates, other meanings, information, synonyms … for the words ‘woolly’ and ‘mammoth’.

woolly

mammoth

 

 

 

  • Share your findings with your partners.
  • Make questions using the words you found.
  • Ask your partner / group your questions.

2. ARTICLE QUESTIONS: Look back at the article and write down some questions you would like to ask the class about the text.

  • Share your questions with other classmates / groups.
  • Ask your partner / group your questions.

3. GAP FILL: In pairs / groups, compare your answers to this exercise. Check your answers. Talk about the words from the activity. Were they new, interesting, worth learning…?

4. VOCABULARY: Circle any words you do not understand. In groups, pool unknown words and use dictionaries to find their meanings.

5. TEST EACH OTHER: Look at the words below. With your partner, try to recall how they were used in the text:

  • come
  • believed
  • ran
  • 21
  • needed
  • across
  • warning
  • major
  • planet
  • large
  • habitat
  • team

STUDENT EXTINCTION SURVEY

Write five GOOD questions about extinction in the table. Do this in pairs. Each student must write the questions on his / her own paper.

When you have finished, interview other students. Write down their answers.

 

STUDENT 1

_____________

STUDENT 2

_____________

STUDENT 3

_____________

Q.1.

 

 

 

 

Q.2.

 

 

 

 

Q.3.

 

 

 

 

Q.4.

 

 

 

 

Q.5.

 

 

 

 

  • Now return to your original partner and share and talk about what you found out. Change partners often.
  • Make mini-presentations to other groups on your findings.

EXTINCTION DISCUSSION

STUDENT A’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student B)

a)

What did you think when you read the headline?

b)

What springs to mind when you hear the word ‘extinction’?

c)

What do you think caused the extinction of the mammoths?

d)

Do you think running out of grass is a reasonable explanation to explain why woolly mammoths became extinct?

e)

What do you think of woolly mammoths?

f)

Would you like them to be re-introduced through their DNA?

g)

How would the world be different if woolly mammoths were alive today?

h)

What other theories are there to explain the extinction of woolly mammoths and other dinosaurs?

i)

How do you think researchers found out this information?

j)

What’s your favourite dinosaur and why?

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

STUDENT B’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student A)

a)

Did you like reading this article?

b)

What do you think of Professor Hartley’s warning?

c)

How much are elephants and rhinoceroses in danger?

d)

How is human activity endangering the lives of animals?

e)

Which animals do you think will become extinct next (and why)?

f)

What are the chances of humans becoming extinct?

g)

What would happen to the world if we became extinct?

h)

Would it be better for the world if we became extinct?

i)

How much of climate change is human induced?

j)

What questions would you like to ask Professor Brian Huntley?

LANGUAGE – MULTIPLE CHOICE

Scientists have come (1) ____ with a new theory on why woolly mammoths became extinct 21,000 years ago. Up until now, people have believed that mammoths, the 3-metre-high relatives of elephants, died (2) ____ because they were hunted (3) ____ extinction. New research shows they ran out of grass, and that was caused by global warming 21 millennia ago. Researchers from the UK’s Durham University suggest the hairy dinosaurs (4) ____ to death because forests took over the grasslands they needed to survive. (5) ____ the Earth became warmer and wetter, forests spread and the mammoth had fewer areas to graze. "Mammoths (6) ____ roamed and munched their way across many parts of Europe," said lead researcher Professor Brian Huntley.

Professor Huntley said what happened to the mammoths in prehistoric times is a warning (7) ____ what might happen in the future to today’s large herbivores. “This was a time of (8) ____ environmental change and losses of habitat that may have led to the extinction of…mega-species that roamed many parts of the planet,” he said. He had a warning about the (9) ____ of today’s large animals: "It is food for thought in these times of global warming and human-(10) ____ habitat change." Other (11) ____ also to become extinct due to climate change were the cave lion, giant deer, woolly rhino and the cave bear. The research team believe today’s elephants and rhinoceroses could suffer a (12) ____ fate.

Put the correct words from the table below in the above article.

1.

(a)

down

(b)

over

(c)

here

(d)

up

2.

(a)

out

(b)

up

(c)

in

(d)

on

3.

(a)

at

(b)

to

(c)

by

(d)

for

4.

(a)

starve

(b)

starvation

(c)

starving

(d)

starved

5.

(a)

Has

(b)

Was

(c)

As

(d)

Is

6.

(a)

having

(b)

had

(c)

had to

(d)

have had

7.

(a)

for

(b)

from

(c)

at

(d)

of

8.

(a)

major

(b)

majority

(c)

majors

(d)

majorities

9.

(a)

sight

(b)

plight

(c)

slight

(d)

flight

10.

(a)

juiced

(b)

deduced

(c)

reduced

(d)

induced

11.

(a)

creation

(b)

creative

(c)

creatures

(d)

creaturely

12.

(a)

similar

(b)

same

(c)

the same

(d)

carbon copy

WRITING

Write about extinction for 10 minutes. Correct your partner’s paper.

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

HOMEWORK

1. VOCABULARY EXTENSION: Choose several of the words from the text. Use a dictionary or Google’s search field (or another search engine) to build up more associations / collocations of each word.

2. INTERNET: Search the Internet and find out more about woolly mammoths. Share what you discover with your partner(s) in the next lesson.

3. EXTINCTION: Make a poster about extinction. Show your work to your classmates in the next lesson. Did you all have similar things?

4. GLOBAL WARMING: Write a magazine article about global warming. Include imaginary interviews with someone who believe it is created by humans and someone who believes it isn’t.

Read what you wrote to your classmates in the next lesson. Write down any new words and expressions you hear from your partner(s).

5. LETTER: Write a letter to a climate change expert. Ask him/her three questions about climate change and extinction. Give him/her three of your opinions on how to reduce the effects of climate change. Read your letter to your partner(s) in your next lesson. Your partner(s) will answer your questions.

ANSWERS

TRUE / FALSE:

a.

F

b.

F

c.

T

d.

T

e.

T

f.

F

g.

F

h.

T

SYNONYM MATCH:

1.

come up with

a.

discovered

2

theory

b.

hypothesis

3.

died out

c.

vanished

4.

starved

d.

died of hunger

5.

munched

e.

chewed

6.

warning

f.

caution

7.

major

g.

considerable

8.

roamed

h.

wandered

9.

creatures

i.

animals

10.

fate

j.

destiny

PHRASE MATCH:

1.

come up with

a.

a new theory

2

hunted to

b.

extinction

3.

21 millennia

c.

ago

4.

starved to

d.

death

5.

the mammoth had fewer

e.

areas to graze

6.

prehistoric

f.

times

7.

losses of

g.

habitat

8.

the plight of

h.

today’s large animals

9.

become extinct due

i.

to climate change

10.

suffer a similar

j.

fate

GAP FILL:

Woolly mammoths extinct due to lack of grass

Scientists have come up with a new theory on why woolly mammoths became extinct 21,000 years ago. Up until now, people have believed that mammoths, the 3-metre-high relatives of elephants, died out because they were hunted to extinction. New research shows they ran out of grass, and that was caused by global warming 21 millennia ago. Researchers from the UK’s Durham University suggest the hairy dinosaurs starved to death because forests took over the grasslands they needed to survive. As the Earth became warmer and wetter, forests spread and the mammoth had fewer areas to graze. "Mammoths had roamed and munched their way across many parts of Europe," said lead researcher Professor Brian Huntley.

Professor Huntley said what happened to the mammoths in prehistoric times is a warning of what might happen in the future to today’s large herbivores. “This was a time of major environmental change and losses of habitat that may have led to the extinction of…mega-species that roamed many parts of the planet,” he said. He had a warning about the plight of today’s large animals: "It is food for thought in these times of global warming and human-induced habitat change." Other creatures also to become extinct due to climate change were the cave lion, giant deer, woolly rhino and the cave bear. The research team believe today’s elephants and rhinoceroses could suffer a similar fate.

LANGUAGE WORK

1 - d

2 - a

3 - b

4 - c

5 - c

6 - b

7 - d

8 - a

9 - b

10 - d

11 - c

12 - a

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