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Deserts have come to symbolize for us places of extreme heat. The fact is, most of the famous deserts of the world are places where the thermometer goes bubbling away and where the sun beats down without mercy. But this does not mean that a desert must be a place where it is always hot. If you find out the definition of a desert you will understand why this is so.

A desert is a region where only special forms of life can exist because there is a shortage of moisture. In a 'hot' desert, there simply is not enough rainfall. So the definition holds true. But suppose there is a region where all water is frozen solid and cannot be used by plants. This satisfies the definition too. Only it would make this a 'cold' desert.

Many people do not know that much of the Arctic is really a desert. There is very little rainfall a year, and most of the water is frozen. So it is quite properly called a desert. The great Gobi Desert in the middle of Asia is bitterly cold in winter time.

Most of the dry, hot deserts with which we are familiar are found in two belts around the world, just north and south of the Equator. They are caused by high atmospheric pressures that exist in those areas which prevent rain from falling. Other deserts, which are found farther away from the Equator, are the result of being in 'the rain shadow'. This is the name for an effect that is caused by mountain barriers that catch rainfall on their seaward side and leave the interior region dry.

Deserts differ greatly in appearance. Where sand is abundant, the winds may build sand hills or dunes. These are sand deserts. Rock deserts consist mostly of bare rock, which forms fantastic cliffs and hills. No great rivers originate in deserts. But a river may rise in moist areas and cross great deserts on its way to the sea. The Nile, for example, flows through the desert region of the Sahara.

The animals that exist in the desert are those that have managed to adapt themselves to its conditions. They must be able to do without water for long periods, or be able to reach water holes at great distances. The camel, for example, is highly adapted to desert life. It has padded feet to walk on sand, a water-storing stomach, humps of fat as a reserve supply of energy, and nostrils that can be closed to keep out sand during windstorms.

Many of the smaller desert creatures need to drink no water at all. They get what liquid they need from the sap of food plants and from night dew on leaves or stones.

     
  1.

The most accurate definition of a desert is a region where

       
    (A) temperatures are extremely high.
    (B) the sun beats down mercilessly.
    (C)

there is a lack of moisture.

    (D) there are bitterly cold winters.
       
  2.

Most deserts are

       
    (A) famous.
    (B)

dry and hot.

    (C) dry and cold.
    (D) wet and cold.
       
  3.

The following are reasons why a desert is dry except

       
    (A)

special forms of life exist there.

    (B) it is so cold that water freezes.
    (C) there are high atmospheric pressures in the area, preventing rainfall.
    (D) it is in 'the rain shadow' area.
       
  4.

Where are deserts found ?

       
    (A) In the Arctic
    (B) North and south of the Equator
    (C) Away from the Equator
    (D)

Throughout the world

       
  5.

In the passage, the word abundant means

       
    (A) different.
    (B) existing.
    (C)

plentiful.

    (D) unlimited.
       
  6. Both sand and rock deserts are
       
    (A) sandy.
    (B) windy.
    (C)

hilly.

    (D) rocky.
       
  7. Which of the following sources of water is not found in the desert ?
       
    (A) Rivers
    (B)

Seas

    (C) Water holes
    (D) Dew
       
  8. What is a 'cold' desert ?
       
  9. Which parts of the camel make it suitable for desert life ?
       
  10. Why are food plants important to smaller desert animals ?
       
           
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  Answers : 1) C    2) B    3) A    4) D    5) C     6) C     7) B

8) It is a place where all water is frozen and cannot be used by plants.

9 ) Its padded feet, water-storing stomach, humps of fat and nostrils make it suitable for desert life.

10) They are important because the desert animals depend on the sap of the plants for liquid.

 
 
 
 
 

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Comprehension 1

 

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