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A recent archeological expedition in Northern Asia revealed a great

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A recent archeological expedition in Northern Asia revealed a great [#permalink]

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New post 20 Nov 2017, 08:19
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A recent archeological expedition in Northern Asia revealed a great number of skeletons of animals that died about 1000 years ago. Further Research indicated that all skeletons had been subjected to temperatures in excess of 300 degrees Celsius. This fact provided grounds for speculation that they were killed and cooked by tribes that lived in Northern Asia at that time. However, some of the skeletons belonged to animals that were considered sacred by those tribes and were never hunted or eaten.

Which of the following best explains the apparent discrepancy above?

A. Some of the skeletons found during the expedition belonged to animals that no longer inhabit the area.
B. Skeletons of most animals did not have damages typical of the skeletons of animals that had been killed, cut and cooked.
C. Tribes that inhabited Northern Asia 1000 years ago used fire to cook food
D. Another study indicated that there was a great famine in Northern Asia at that time, which forced local tribes to look for alternative sources for food.
E. A further study indicated evidence of a large fire that had occured in Northern Asia approximately 1000 years ago
[Reveal] Spoiler: OA

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Re: A recent archeological expedition in Northern Asia revealed a great [#permalink]

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New post 20 Nov 2017, 08:40
Which of the following best explains the apparent discrepancy above?

A. Some of the skeletons found during the expedition belonged to animals that no longer inhabit the area. We are no concerned whether those animals now live there or not.
B. Skeletons of most animals did not have damages typical of the skeletons of animals that had been killed, cut and cooked. - out of scope
C. Tribes that inhabited Northern Asia 1000 years ago used fire to cook food - I don't know if there is any other alternative used to cook other than fire. Obliviously they used fire.
D. Another study indicated that there was a great famine in Northern Asia at that time, which forced local tribes to look for alternative sources for food. - contender. This option, however, can be discarded if you look closely that the premise clearly mentions that animals were NEVER hunted or eaten. So this option is definitely not compatible with question and hence can be eliminated.
E. A further study indicated evidence of a large fire that had occurred in Northern Asia approximately 1000 years ago - Bingo. It's the rampant fire that burned everything and everyone. Speculation gone wrong.
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Re: A recent archeological expedition in Northern Asia revealed a great [#permalink]

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New post 03 Dec 2017, 07:44
lichting wrote:
A recent archeological expedition in Northern Asia revealed a great number of skeletons of animals that died about 1000 years ago. Further Research indicated that all skeletons had been subjected to temperatures in excess of 300 degrees Celsius. This fact provided grounds for speculation that they were killed and cooked by tribes that lived in Northern Asia at that time. However, some of the skeletons belonged to animals that were considered sacred by those tribes and were never hunted or eaten.

Which of the following best explains the apparent discrepancy above?

A. Some of the skeletons found during the expedition belonged to animals that no longer inhabit the area.
B. Skeletons of most animals did not have damages typical of the skeletons of animals that had been killed, cut and cooked.
C. Tribes that inhabited Northern Asia 1000 years ago used fire to cook food
D. Another study indicated that there was a great famine in Northern Asia at that time, which forced local tribes to look for alternative sources for food.
E. A further study indicated evidence of a large fire that had occured in Northern Asia approximately 1000 years ago


Often, finding the correct answer to a GMAT Critical Reasoning question comes down to differentiating between the correct answer and a seemingly correct trap answer. Let’s see how that type of differentiation is a key part of answering this question.

Since the question asks us to explain an apparent discrepancy, let’s first identify the discrepancy.

On one hand:

The fact that the discovered animal skeletons had been subjected to temperatures in excess of 300 degrees Fahrenheit provided grounds for speculation that the animals had been cooked and eaten by tribes that lived in the area.

On the other hand:

Some of the skeletons belonged to animals that were considered sacred by the tribes and were never hunted or eaten.

Now let’s look for an answer choice that would explain the apparent discrepancy.

(A) Some of the skeletons found during the expedition belonged to animals that no longer inhabit the area.

The fact that some of the animals do not inhabit the area at the present time does not help us to explain a discrepancy related to events that occurred when the animals did inhabit the area 1,000 years ago.

(B) Skeletons of most animals did not have damages typical of the skeletons of animals that had been killed, cut and cooked.

By combining what this choice says with what the passage says about some of the animals’ being sacred, we could support the conclusion that the animals were not in fact cooked and eaten. However, our goal is not to simply decide whether the animals were cooked and eaten. Rather, in order to answer the question, we have to resolve the discrepancy between the fact that the skeletons were subjected to temperatures typical of cooking and the fact that some of the skeletons were of animals never eaten.

(C) Tribes that inhabited Northern Asia 1000 years ago used fire to cook food.

This answer choice lends support to the idea that since the skeletons were subjected to high temperatures, the animals were likely cooked and eaten. However, we are not looking for evidence to help us decide whether the animals were in fact cooked and eaten, but rather information that explains the discrepancy between the fact that the skeletons were subjected to temperatures typical of cooking and the fact that some of the skeletons were of animals never eaten.

(D) Another study indicated that there was a great famine in Northern Asia at that time, which forced local tribes to look for alternative sources for food.

This answer choice is tempting. By saying that a famine forced local tribes to look for alternative sources for food, this choice seems to provide a reason why the tribes would have chosen to cook and eat animals considered sacred. The presence of such a reason may explain the apparent discrepancy.

(E) A further study indicated evidence of a large fire that had occurred in Northern Asia approximately 1000 years ago.

This answer choice also has potential in that it indicates that the animal skeletons that were found could have been subjected to high temperatures in this large fire, rather than because they were cooked. That might explain the discrepancy we are looking to solve.

So, since both choice D and choice E seem to have potential, we need a way to differentiate between the two, one of which must be a seemingly correct trap answer and the other of which is the correct answer.

Often, a detail in a passage is the key to eliminating a choice, and in this case the word “never” in “never hunted or eaten” is the key we need. Because the passage says that the sacred animals were “never hunted or eaten,” we can determine that even in a time of famine, the sacred animals would not have been cooked, and that therefore the “alternative sources of food” mentioned in D did not include any sacred animals.

Thus, D definitely does not explain the discrepancy, and we are left with one answer, E.
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Re: A recent archeological expedition in Northern Asia revealed a great   [#permalink] 03 Dec 2017, 07:44
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