Some archaeologists speculate that the Americas might have been initially colonized between 40,000 and 25,000 years ago. However, to support this theory it is necessary to explain the absence of generally accepted habitation sites for that time interval in what is now the United States. Australia, which has a smaller land area than the United States, has many such sites, supporting the generally accepted claim that the continent was colonized by humans at least 40,000 years ago. Australia is less densely populated (resulting in lower chances of discovering sites) and with its overall greater aridity would have presented conditions less favorable for hunter gatherer occupation. Proportionally, at least as much land area has been lost from the coastal regions of Australia because of postglacial sea-level rise as in the United States, so any coastal archaeological record in Australia should have been depleted about as much as a coastal record in the United States. Since there are so many resource-rich rivers leading inland from the United States coastlines, it seems implausible that a growing population of humans would have confined itself to coasts for thousands of years. If inhabitants were present 25,000 years ago, the chances of their appearing in the archaeological record would seem to be greater than for Australia.
1. The passage is primarily concerned with doing which of the following?
A. Presenting an objection to a claim
B. Accounting for an apparent anomaly
C. Outlining an alternative interpretation
D. Correcting a particular misconception
E. Questioning the validity of a comparison
2. The author of the passage implies which of the following about 25,000 years ago?
A. The coastline of the region that is now the United States is longer than it was 40,000 years ago.
B. Rivers in what is now the United States were numerous than they are now.
C. Australia was less densely populated at that time than was the region that is now the United States.
D. Australia’s climate was significantly drier than it is now.
E. Global sea level was lower than it is now.
3. The author of the passage implies that, in what is now the United States, archaeological evidence of inhabitation in the period from 40,000 to 25,000 years ago is lacking because that region is
A. had its oldest habitation sites inundated following a postglacial rise in sea level
B. has many resource-rich rivers that facilitated the dispersal of early inhabitants from an initial concentration in coastal areas
C. was sparsely populated until about 25,000 years ago
D. was colonized less than 25,000 years ago
E. was inhabited only by hunter-gatherers until 25,000 years ago
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