QUESTION TEXT: Many bird and reptile species use hissing as a…
QUESTION TYPE: Paradox
- Many species use hissing.
- This probably evolved from a common ancestor.
- Back when the hissing would have evolved, no predators could have heard the hissing.
ANALYSIS: On paradox questions, you have to do two things:
- Understand why the situation is confusing.
- Pick an answer that explains the confusion.
Here, the confusion is that predators didn’t have hearing back when the hissing evolved. So a hissing noise wouldn’t have been useful. Why did it evolve? I couldn’t prephrase this. So I kept an open mind and looked for something that explained the evolution of a hissing noise for reasons other than the noise.
Note that you are not looking for an answer that is true. You need to explain the confusion. Most trap answers are true, but explain nothing.
- So? This doesn’t explain why hissing evolved. It adds to the confusion: the ancestor couldn’t hear its own hiss.
- So? This doesn’t show that hissing was useful. The predators couldn’t hear it. It doesn’t matter if the ancestor had 5-7 non-hissing threat devices – those are irrelevant.
- CORRECT. Increasing body side is a well known way for animals to frighten predators. This shows that hissing was a byproduct of increasing size. It explains why hissing evolved even though the sound itself wasn’t immediately useful.
- Hissing cost less energy….but it was still useless! Predators couldn’t hear it. We care about cost and effectiveness. A cheap, useless method is no good.
- This doesn’t explain why hissing developed. This answer could have been correct if it said “hissing developed to help the ancestor find food” or some other reason unrelated to predators. But the answer didn’t do that, so it offers no explanation.
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