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CLEP Natural Science Practice Tests & Test Prep by Exam Edge - Topics

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Understanding what is on the CLEP Natural Science exam is crucial step in preparing for the exam. You will need to have an understanding of the testing domain (topics covered) to be sure you are studying the correct information.

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CLEP Natural Science - Exam Topics Sample Questions

Hard parts of a prehistoric object are changed and preserved through which of the following?

Correct Answer:

the process of recrystallization is fundamental in the preservation of the hard parts of prehistoric organisms, such as bones, shells, and teeth. this natural phenomenon occurs under specific geological conditions, where the original minerals in the hard structures of these organisms are altered due to changes in environmental factors like temperature and pressure.

when an organism is buried, the hard parts are subjected to the geological processes occurring within the earth’s crust. over time, these parts can become encased in sediment and are subsequently subjected to increased pressure and temperature as they are buried deeper. these changes in the physical environment can cause the minerals in the hard parts to dissolve and re-precipitate, forming new mineral structures through recrystallization.

recrystallization differs from simple mineral replacement. in mineral replacement, the original biological material is gradually replaced by different minerals that crystallize within the biological structure, often retaining the original morphology but changing the chemical composition. in contrast, recrystallization involves the transformation of the original minerals into new forms while staying within the same chemical system. this can lead to changes in crystal size and orientation but typically within the same overall chemical framework.

the importance of recrystallization in paleontology cannot be overstated. it helps in the preservation of the fossil record, allowing scientists to study the anatomical structures of extinct organisms which are crucial for understanding evolutionary history. moreover, analysis of recrystallized parts can provide insights into the environmental conditions that prevailed during the time the organism was alive and after it was buried.

understanding the process of recrystallization and distinguishing it from other fossilization processes like permineralization or carbonization is essential for accurate paleontological interpretation. each preservation mode provides different kinds of information about the past, contributing uniquely to our understanding of earth’s history and the life forms that once existed.

Homo sapiens are the genus and species of humans. Which of the following is correct?

Correct Answer:
homo sapiens sapiens is the only human subspecies that exists today.

the taxonomy of homo sapiens is a complex and historically evolving topic. "homo sapiens" is the scientific name for the only extant human species. the species is composed of several subspecies. among them, "homo sapiens sapiens" is the subspecies to which all modern human beings belong.

the first statement, "homo sapiens idaltu is the name of the next subspecies into which man will evolve," is incorrect. "homo sapiens idaltu" was an extinct subspecies of homo sapiens that lived around 160,000 years ago in africa. there is no scientific basis to claim it as the next evolutionary stage of humans.

the second and third statements are essentially similar, emphasizing that "homo sapiens sapiens" is the only existing subspecies of humans today, which correctly reflects the current understanding of human evolutionary biology. it also notes that "homo sapiens idaltu" is now extinct and correctly distinguishes between cro-magnon men and neanderthals. cro-magnon is an informal name used to describe the first early modern humans of the european upper paleolithic, and they are considered part of "homo sapiens sapiens." in contrast, neanderthals, or "homo neanderthalensis," represent a different species that diverged from homo sapiens around 600,000 years ago and went extinct approximately 40,000 years ago.

the fourth statement, which inaccurately claims that neanderthals were the earliest homo sapiens, is incorrect. as previously mentioned, neanderthals are classified as a different species, distinct from homo sapiens. their evolutionary paths diverged from a common ancestor and did not converge into the homo sapiens lineage.

therefore, the best answer is the one that states "homo sapiens sapiens is the only human subspecies that exists today," and provides accurate information about "homo sapiens idaltu," cro-magnon men, and neanderthals. this answer accurately reflects the current scientific consensus on human evolution and taxonomy.