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# In Swartkans territory, archaeologists discovered charred

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In Swartkans territory, archaeologists discovered charred [#permalink]

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13 Sep 2012, 20:24
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In Swartkans territory, archaeologists discovered charred bone fragments dating back 1 million years. Analysis of the fragments, which came from a variety of animals, showed that they had been heated to temperatures no higher than those produced in experimental campfires made from branches of white stinkwood, the most common tree around Swartkans.

Which of the following, if true, would, together with the information above, provide the best basis for the claim that the charred bone fragments are evidence of the use of fire by early hominids?

(A) The white stinkwood tree is used for building material by the present-day inhabitants of Swartkans.
(B) Forest fires can heat wood to a range of temperatures that occur in campfires.
(C) The bone fragments were fitted together by the archaeologists to form the complete skeletons of several animals.
(D) Apart from the Swartkans discovery, there is reliable evidence that early hominids used fire as many as 500000 years ago.
(E) The bone fragments were found in several distinct layers of limestone that contained primitive cutting tools known to have been used by early hominids.
[Reveal] Spoiler: OA

Last edited by reto on 29 Jun 2015, 13:05, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: In Swartkans territory, archaeologists discovered charred [#permalink]

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13 Sep 2012, 20:33
I got confused between D and E. Although "E" link the tools found with the bones to early hominids, it does not explain the two inherent drawbacks:
1) Early hominids does not exactly mean those who lived a million years ago
2) How is tool related to fire

Compared to E, D is more suitable but the OA does not agree.
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Re: In Swartkans territory, archaeologists discovered charred [#permalink]

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13 Sep 2012, 20:48
E tells us that that bone fragments were from the use of fire by the early hominids, which is the assumption in the passage....
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Re: In Swartkans territory, archaeologists discovered charred [#permalink]

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13 Sep 2012, 20:51
abhishekkpv wrote:
E tells us that that bone fragments were from the use of fire by the early hominids, which is the assumption in the passage....

Hi Abhishek
I did not get you
How come E tells us that that bone fragments were from the use of fire by the early hominids? There is no mention of fire ar anything even remotely linked to it.
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Re: In Swartkans territory, archaeologists discovered charred [#permalink]

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13 Sep 2012, 23:41
The bone fragments were found in several distinct layers of limestone that contained primitive cutting tools known to have been used by early hominids..

This statement tells us that the bone fragments belonged to hominids because they were found in the same layers...
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Re: In Swartkans territory, archaeologists discovered charred [#permalink]

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14 Sep 2012, 02:51
abhishekkpv wrote:
The bone fragments were found in several distinct layers of limestone that contained primitive cutting tools known to have been used by early hominids..

This statement tells us that the bone fragments belonged to hominids because they were found in the same layers...

I am sorry but I am not convinced. Maybe an expert could help us here
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Re: In Swartkans territory, archaeologists discovered charred [#permalink]

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14 Sep 2012, 03:27
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I have to understand the situation

Here what we care about is this

Quote:
In Swartkans territory, archaeologists discovered charred bone fragments dating back 1 million years. Analysis of the fragments, which came from a variety of animals, showed that they had been heated to temperatures no higher than those produced in experimental campfires made from branches of white stinkwood, the most common tree around Swartkans.

E show that in different layers we have the evidence that the fragments ARE the same of a campfire. So, if the fragments are the same (different place, time, heated temperature and so on......the hominidis used fire)

D only says that hominidis used fire at some date but nothing else. we DO NOT have correlation between bones and fire and the use of the latter.

Hope it is clear now
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Re: In Swartkans territory, archaeologists discovered charred [#permalink]

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14 Sep 2012, 11:12
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getgyan wrote:
I got confused between D and E. Although "E" link the tools found with the bones to early hominids, it does not explain the two inherent drawbacks:
1) Early hominids does not exactly mean those who lived a million years ago
2) How is tool related to fire

Compared to E, D is more suitable but the OA does not agree.

Dear getgyan,
I am responding to your pm
I agree this is not the best question --- in particular, it seems to requires some understanding of when "early hominids" lived or what constitutes "early hominids." It believe it's no coincidence that GMAC decided to drop this question in the move from OG12 to OG13. Nevertheless, the question has a clear answer.

Here are the facts of the argument:
We find these 1 million year old charred bone fragments. We don't know how they were charred.
The argument tells us -- simple campfires could have done the charring. OK, that's good --- that means, the charring is at least consistent with the possibility of early hominids using fire, but it's certainly not ironclad proof the the charring was done by early hominids.
By the end of the argument, we still don't know: how were the bone charred? Were they "cooked" by early hominids? Or were all those animals simply caught in a forest fire around the same time? We don't know what charred the bones, and we don't know whether humans were involved.

Now, the question: "Which of the following, if true, would, together with the information above, provide the best basis for the claim that the charred bone fragments are evidence of the use of fire by early hominids?" In other words, what would help us link the involvement of early human to the charring of the bones. Let's say for simplicity we have two possible hypotheses for how the bones were charred:
(a) forest fire
(b) use of fire by early hominids
What further piece of evidence supports choosing (b) over (a)?

Choices (A), (B), and (C) are ridiculous. Choice (D) is tempting --- if early hominids controlled fire 500,000 year ago, then at least it weakly suggests that maybe they could have controlled it 1M ya. Maybe. Evidence that early hominids had adopted any technology at Time #1 is strong evidence that they knew about this technology after Time #1, but it's very hard to make the argument that they definitely know about it long before Time #1. There's half a million years between 1M ya and 500K ya, and if mastery of fire were introduced any time in that half-million year span, that would mean that we couldn't deduce use of fire 1M ya from use of fire 500K ya. Choice (D) is, at best, weak, ambiguous, wishy-washy support for the argument.

Choice (E) --- where we found the charred bone, we also found hominid tools --- aha! That is compelling evidence that the animals weren't just running wild and happened to be killed in a forest fire. It's compelling evidence that they were intentionally killed and cut up by early hominids, and therefore the charring of the bones happened when the animal remains were in the possession of the early hominids, presumably in some kind of cooking process. That strongly suggests the early hominids were able to use control and use fire. This is powerful support for interpretation (b) over interpretation (a). That's why (E) is a clear choice for the answer.

Does all this make sense?

Mike
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Re: In Swartkans territory, archaeologists discovered charred [#permalink]

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14 Sep 2012, 21:00
Hi Mike

Thanks for the explanation. I have one more point of view

What if the hominids along with their pet-animals died in the forest fire and then again in subsequent fires? E will make total sense in that respect too but it will not support the use of fire by the hominids.

Thus the whole agenda boils down to prove that the charred bones were not burned in a forest fire.

If we look at the stem, it states that "temperatures no higher than those produced in experimental campfires made from branches of white stinkwood" which implies that only the branches were burned whereas in a forest fire the whole tree(branch+stem) would burn. Also the temperature produced would be different in a forest fire because of the presence of other kinds of trees. Are my assumptions correct?
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Re: In Swartkans territory, archaeologists discovered charred [#permalink]

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15 Sep 2012, 14:04
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getgyan wrote:
Hi Mike

Thanks for the explanation. I have one more point of view

What if the hominids along with their pet-animals died in the forest fire and then again in subsequent fires? E will make total sense in that respect too but it will not support the use of fire by the hominids.

Thus the whole agenda boils down to prove that the charred bones were not burned in a forest fire.

If we look at the stem, it states that "temperatures no higher than those produced in experimental campfires made from branches of white stinkwood" which implies that only the branches were burned whereas in a forest fire the whole tree(branch+stem) would burn. Also the temperature produced would be different in a forest fire because of the presence of other kinds of trees. Are my assumptions correct?

Dear Getgyan

Part of the problem here is --- you are digging extra-deep into a question that is of questionable quality. Remember, this is one of the questions the OG decided to jettison.

First of all, the idea of "pets" I believe is not 1M ya, but something more recent in human history. Even herding of animals was a relatively recent innovation, compared to the earlier hunting and gathering societies that existed during most of humanid evolution. More to the point, if humans & animals died together, they would have found charred human bones along with the charred animals bones --- that would be too important a finding to omit from the description. In other words, if they found charred human & animals bones, and said only "charred animals bones were found", that omission would constitute a level of pure deceit that you simply are not going to find in GMAT CR passages.

Look at this statement "Analysis of the fragments ... showed that they had been heated to temperatures no higher than those produced in experimental campfires made from branches of white stinkwood." What this says is: there is some ceiling temperature T, and the bones never got hotter than that. As it happens, T is also the temperature at which stinkwood campfires would burn. We know nothing else. We don't know if T is 800 K or 5000 K. We don't know whether stinkwood is the coolest burning or hottest burning wood in the forest. If there were a forest fire --- of course, a forest fire is a big thing, and it has a middle and an edge. How does the temperature at the middle compare to T? How does the temperature at the edge compare to T? Presumably, at any forest fire, there are some animals who die in the center, and their bones are just incinerated to ash, but there are also some on the periphery, maybe which die largely of asphyxiation, whose bones might just be charred but not incinerated. ----- In short, there is a lot we don't know about this statement and its potential implications. Other than establishing a plausible link between the charred bones and stinkwood campfires, we can't necessarily use it to prove or disprove anything else.

Does all this make sense?
Mike
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Re: In Swartkans territory, archaeologists discovered charred [#permalink]

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16 Sep 2012, 22:01
Hi Mike

I think you are right. Your explanation is convincing enough

Thanks again

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Re: In Swartkans territory, archaeologists discovered charred [#permalink]

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16 Sep 2012, 23:10
One more thanks to Mike...
Thats a great explanation.
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Re: In Swartkans territory, archaeologists discovered charred [#permalink]

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26 Nov 2012, 23:38
I got the question wrong in the first attempt.
This is my second try.
This is how I approached:
Question Stem says that we need to find an assumption to fill the logic gaps. (Ok! We are half-way through!)

Premise 1(P1): In a place, we found animals' charred bones(1 m year old).
Premise 2(P2): Exp. campfire burns (say at Temp 1000 degree C) and bones heated to T<1000
Conclusion: Humans used fire.

So, you know.. where is the gap
charred + bones <.............> humans + fire (i.e. Premise2 <....gap......> Conclusion)

Flag1: I looked up dictionary and found out that char (verb) means 'to partially burn so as to blacken the surface'. The word is contextually used when an object is intentionally half burned (in olden times, this method was used to produce charcoal)
Flag2: Anything other than campfire (unless measured in terms of campfire temp) will disrupt the logical flow from Premise2 to Conclusion. In case forest fire temp can be measured in terms of campfire temp, then this information will become Premise3. Now we need additional information to fill the gap between Premise3 and Conclusion.
Flag3: Cutting tool does not mean that humanoids used to cut meat. May be they used to cut wood for campfires and used to tear the meat or simply ate the whole piece . If two pieces are found together in an excavation, it simply means that both were existent at a particular instant of time.
Flag4: 500 thousand years!(let us say humanoids existed then). Now, let us suppose that after 500 thousands years from today, our future generations (superhumans) found that we(humans) traveled in aeroplane, does it mean that humanoids also traveled in aeroplanes?

Now see the options:
A. "Stinkwood is a building material." So, was it also used to build 1 M years ago ? At the most, with this option, logic can flow as- building material can catch fire and cause charred bones. But how come humans knew about fire. The option does not fill our gap between P2 and Conclusion.

B. Refer to my Flag2. At the most, this option can create a Premise3 in the logic flow, but leave a gap between P3 and Conclusion.

C. We already know that skeleton belonged to animals. No extra information to plug the hole in logical gap between P2 and Conclusion.

D. Refer to Flag4 and you will hate this option.

E. Not a very good option. But best among the given options. Now, if 'char' (verb) means to intentionally half-burn an object, humanoids' cutting tools and humanoids' intention to half-burn the animals existed simultaneously. So, charred bones and humanoids fire knowledge existed at the same time. It kind of fills the logic gap between Premise2 and Conclusion.
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Re: In Swartkans territory, archaeologists discovered charred [#permalink]

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29 Jan 2013, 03:55
what is an assumption for this argument.?

pls help.
the argument is

from chared bone---------> person use fire

what is assumption here? pls do not say more, pls, just tell me an assumption. nothing more.

after getting an assumption, I will continue to post a question
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Re: In Swartkans territory, archaeologists discovered charred [#permalink]

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29 Jan 2013, 11:29
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thangvietnam wrote:
what is an assumption for this argument.?
pls help.
the argument is
from charred bone---------> person use fire
what is assumption here? pls do not say more, pls, just tell me an assumption. nothing more.
after getting an assumption, I will continue to post a question

Dear thangvietnam,
With all due respect, you are asking the wrong question. It's as if the question were "find the area of the circle", and you are asking how many vertices the shape has. What you are asking is a question that doesn't really make sense in context.

You see, the prompt here is really just a set of evidence --- there's not really an "argument" in the prompt paragraph, just evidence. The conclusion is actually not in the prompt paragraph at all but in the question, and you need another piece of evidence (from among the answer choices) to establish this conclusion. You can't really even begin to identify an assumption until after you pick the correct answer, so trying to start the question by identifying an assumption is a strategy doomed to failure.

Yes, I know that "identify the assumption" is an approach that works in a large number of CR, but on the GMAT, you can never afford to be a one-trick pony --- there's no "one size fits all" strategy that you can use on every single question. The GMAT will give you enough variety that you have to be flexible and resourceful in how you approach the problems.

Does that make sense?

Mike
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Re: In Swartkans territory, archaeologists discovered charred [#permalink]

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30 Jan 2013, 08:43
great, great, thank you very much, Mike

your posting is what I want to see.

yes, I see this type of argument is abnormal . and your explanation make clear why this type is abnormal.

that is why your posting is great , great.

do you have any tip/strategy for solving this type of argument in which there are only evidence

pls help
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Re: In Swartkans territory, archaeologists discovered charred [#permalink]

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30 Jan 2013, 08:48
normally we have inference question, bold phrase question and assumption-based questions.

many questions if not most, are assumption-based questions, argument of which normally contain evidence, conclusion and assumption.

that is why I see the posted question "abnormal" .

Thank you Mike. our discussion is to find out everything which help us beat the gmat.
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Re: In Swartkans territory, archaeologists discovered charred [#permalink]

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30 Jan 2013, 09:12
Dear Mike

you are correct that for many types of question, starting a question by identifying an assumption works well.

but for this type of question what do you do after you read the argument and the question? you have to know what you will find in the answer choices before you read and analyse answer choices.

Thank you Mike.
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Re: In Swartkans territory, archaeologists discovered charred [#permalink]

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30 Jan 2013, 11:55
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thangvietnam wrote:
Dear Mike
you are correct that for many types of question, starting a question by identifying an assumption works well.
but for this type of question what do you do after you read the argument and the question? you have to know what you will find in the answer choices before you read and analyse answer choices.
Thank you Mike.

Dear thangvietnam
First of all, your statement "you have to know what you will find in the answer choices before you read and analyse answer choices" is FALSE in general. In the very specific cases of "find the assumption" or "strengthen/weaken the question", then yes, it's good to identify the assumption before you read the answer choices. For those three specific CR question types, your statement is true. In other CR question types, especially unusually ones like this, we have absolutely no way to anticipate how the answer choices will impact the logic of the argument, and hence there is no way to avoid reading and analyzing each answer choices.

http://magoosh.com/gmat/2012/save-time- ... questions/

Remember, if you try to approach the GMAT CR with recipes and formulas, the GMAT will obliterate you. On the CR, the GMAT demands flexible critical reasoning.

I have already written quite a bit about this argument in the posts above, so I am not going to go through a full analysis here. The procedures, briefly, would be --- for each answer choice, read the choice, and then evaluate whether this choice, in conjunction with the evidence in the prompt paragraph, supports the claim "that the charred bone fragments are evidence of the use of fire by early hominids." Let me know if you have any specific questions about answer choices that I have not already discussed above.

Mike
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Re: In Swartkans territory, archaeologists discovered charred [#permalink]

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05 Feb 2013, 04:12
thank you MIke, I will return to this posting in a short time.
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Re: In Swartkans territory, archaeologists discovered charred   [#permalink] 05 Feb 2013, 04:12

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