II. Reading Comprehension (10%)
Reports of dying or dead giant squid floating at sea or washed ashore appear in documented records reaching as far back as the 16th century. No doubt these wondrous creatures were seen washed up on the world’s beaches and caught in fishermen’s nets long before they appeared in the historical records. But they rank among the least understood denizens of the sea, even today. Researchers seeking to learn more about this elusive animal have been rewarded with little more than frustration. In 1857, Jappetus Steenstrup, an eminent Danish biologist, was one of the first to attempt a scholarly study of the animal. Working with fragmentary evidence gathered from stories, old sketches, and a single intact beak, he was able to conclude that the fearsome monster, which at the time was known as a “kraken,” was in reality nothing more than a squid, albeit very large one. This assessment was later confirmed when two dead specimens that ended up as flotsam on the Newfoundland coast in 1873 were examined.
More than 100 Architeuthis individuals have since been found on beaches and coastlines throughout the world’s oceans. However, they have not contributed nearly as much detailed information as scientists would like. Foremost among the problems researchers face is the fact that many of the specimens are in advanced stages of decomposition when found. Moreover, the bodies have frequently been fed upon by other marine organisms. Typically, the eyes, skin and internal organs are the first to disappear. Tentacles and arms are also often missing. Stomachs are nearly always empty. When remnants of food are found, they are in such small pieces that the identities of the prey species are impossible to determine.
__( A )__One thing that has lent much to the mystique surrounding the giant squid is that sperm whales stranded on beaches or caught by whaling ships often bear scars inflicted by the powerful suckers on the arms and tentacles of these animals. __( B )__ The size of the scars has been used by some researchers to estimate the size of squid eaten by the whales. __( C )__Scars as large as 20 cm have been reported. If this is compared to the size of the suckers found on dead squid, it could be concluded that the whale had battled a squid seventy-five meters long! Few marine biologists are prepared to accept this, however. __( D )__They point to the fact that scars made when the whale is young would get larger as its body grew, and that sperm whales are often infected with a skin fungus that leaves scars similar in shape to those left by a squid’s suckers.
The general range of the giant squid and a very rough idea of their abundance can be estimated from the stomach contents of sperm whales. The soft tissues of squid are quickly digested by enzymes in the large mammals’ stomachs. But the squid’s hard beaks, which are made from a carbohydrate known as “chitin,” are indigestible and are easily counted. They don’t stay in the whale forever though. Sperm whales have a way of ridding themselves of the pointy squid beaks that accumulated in their gut. They coat the beaks with a slick, waxy substance known as ambergris. Then they pass the mass of beaks and ambergris through the digestive tract.
【Group】1. The word denizen in the passage is closest in meaning to ____.