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随身英语

The problem with big brains 聪明大脑所带来的问题

 

研究显示,有一个体积较大的大脑可能是造成一些大型哺乳动物灭绝的原因之一。这是因为大脑工作时需要消耗许多能量,再加上大脑体积大的动物通常有着较长的妊娠期,这也就意味着它们繁殖得很慢。本期《随身英语》探讨大体积大脑所引起的困扰。

课文内容

词汇: 生物

Is it possible to be too clever? Could it be that a big brain is actually a dangerous asset?

Whilst the brainy human species goes from strength to strength, a study suggests that having an abundance of grey matter directly increases the risk of extinction in our mammal cousins.

Biologist Manuela Gonzalez-Suarez, from the University of Reading, says that big brains come with a clear downside.

"The cost is too high," she told BBC Future. They require a lot of energy to grow and maintain. Large-brained animals also have longer gestational periods, meaning they produce fewer offspring. And their young need greater parental attention until they become independent.

These traits mean "populations cannot grow fast, or quickly compensate for additional mortality," she says.

In short, big brains are an investment not all animals can afford. And this precarious situation is made worse by the fact that many large mammals are themselves the target of poaching or live in threatened habitats.

Some animals have long since decided that brains weren’t necessary. BBC Future suggests that sponges evolved to lose their brains over time, as they offered no tangible benefits.

But what about humans? We are the most intelligent species on Earth. We have tamed the natural environment, developed incredible technologies, and settled across almost every corner of the planet. But all this may be exacerbating the problem for other species.

Gonzalez-Suarez says: "It is our collective responsibility as scientists who study megafauna to act to prevent their decline." Time to put our big brains to good use.

词汇表

asset 长处,优点
brainy 有头脑的,聪明的
go from strength to strength 不断壮大,从强大变得更强
grey matter(口语)大脑,智力
downside 不利之处
gestational period 妊娠期
offspring 后代,子孙
young 动物的幼小后代
trait 特质,特征
mortality 死亡率
precarious 危险的,不确定的
to poach 偷猎
habitat 动物的栖息地,生存环境
to evolve 进化
species 物种
to tame 控制,驾驭
to exacerbate 使恶化,使加剧
megafauna 巨型动物群

测验与练习

1.  阅读课文并回答问题。

1. Why are big brains 'expensive'?

2. Which phrase means 'shared duty'?

3. What does Gonzales-Suarez believe the scientific community should do about large animals?

4. Why did sponges lose their brains?

5. True or false? Mammals with big brains increase the risk of extinction for humans.

2.  请你在不参考课文的情况下完成下列练习。选择一个意思合适的单词填入句子的空格处

1. Being a famous, sexy, wealthy, popular celebrity does come with one big _________: you have no privacy. 

downside         asset         habitat         trait

2. A mother tiger protecting her _________ will viciously attack potential threats.

megafauna         habitat         young         species

3. Sponges _________ strength to strength since losing their brains.

gone from         go from         have gone from         are going to

4. If you tell him directly it will only _________ the problem. Find another way to let him know.

prevent         excruciate         evolve         exacerbate

5. She's the _________ person I know! Straight A-grades again last year.

biggest brained         brainiest         most brainy         brainest

答案

1.  阅读课文并回答问题。

1. Why are big brains 'expensive'?
Big brains cost both energy and time. They require energy to grow and maintain. Animals with big brains also require a longer time in the womb and being cared for by their parents.

2. Which phrase means 'shared duty'?
Collective responsibility.

3. What does Gonzales-Suarez believe the scientific community should do about large animals?
She believes scientists should work together to prevent the decline of megafauna.

4. Why did sponges lose their brains?
According to the article, having a brain offered insufficient benefits for sponges.

5. True or false? Mammals with big brains increase the risk of extinction for humans.
False: Humans increase the risk of extinction for large mammals.

2. 请你在不参考课文的情况下完成下列练习。选择一个意思合适的单词填入句子的空格处

1. Being a famous, sexy, wealthy, popular celebrity does come with one big downside: you have no privacy.

2. A mother tiger protecting her young will viciously attack potential threats.

3. Sponges have gone from strength to strength since losing their brains.

4. If you tell him directly it will only exacerbate the problem. Find another way to let him know.

5. She's the brainiest person I know! Straight A-grades again last year.


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