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Deserts are usually hot and barren places; yet, they are also beautiful. A few plants, rocks and dusty red-brown soil make up the ingredients of most North American deserts where there is sufficient food and water for certain animals to survive.

One famous dry and hot place in the world with no visible rock or plant and barely any water is the Sahara Desert. It is the largest desert in the world and is located in Northern Africa. It gives the impression of an ocean of pure white sand. Surprisingly, the Sahara is home to many strange animals.

These animals have survived over many generations because they were able to adapt to their particular conditions. However, a certain number of species were unable to adapt fast enough to their environment and so died out. One of the most interesting animals in the Sahara is the sand stink which in French means 'fish of the desert'. The sand stink behaves just like a fish except that instead of in water, it 'swims' through the sand. Its legs act as fins and the hard scales on its skin act as an armor helping it move through the sand. A piece of transparent skin protects its eyes as it swims through the sand. Its eggs are covered with skin to prevent dehydration.

Another desert animal that hides from the sun is the desert shrimp. The lifespan of these tiny animals is only about two weeks because that is about when puddles of water from desert rainstorms dry up. They are able to survive in the hot conditions, but without their main source of survival, they dehydrate and are virtually roasted to death.

One of the rare animals able to bask in the desert sun is the camel. For many hundreds of years, the camel has been the 'horse of the desert', helping travelers across the desert. This 'horse' is slow-moving, yet it is big and strong enough to carry extremely heavy loads. The camel has large feet almost like snowshoes. This characteristic prevents it from sinking into the sand.

A camel is able to drink up to one hundred and eighteen liters of water in a day. Once it is full, it can move for five to seven days without water, carrying its own portable 'water tank'. Its humps help to store fats which serve as a storage of strength, removing the need for food, sometimes for a week. In fact, the humps become smaller as the camel consumes the fats stored. They also help to regulate the camel's temperature.

Answer the following questions using complete sentences
  1. Explain the term 'barren places' (paragraph 1).
  2. Why are plants not found in the Sahara Desert while there are some in the deserts in North America ?
  3. Why is it surprising that the Sahara Desert is 'home to many strange animals' (paragraph 2) ?
  4. According to paragraph 3, why did some species in the Sahara Desert become extinct ?
  5. In what way is a sand stink like s fish ?
  6. Explain how a sand stink moves around without getting sand in its eyes.
  7. What is the 'main source of survival' (paragraph 4) for the desert shrimp ?
  8. What are the camel's two most visible features that make them the perfect 'horse of the desert' in the Sahara ? Also explain the usefulness of each feature to the camel in your answer.
  9. In what way is the camel able to survive without drinking water in the desert for days ? Explain in your own words.
  10. Why does the camel have energy to travel for days in the desert without eating ?
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These places are dry and plants cannot grow there. / These places are dry and not fertile. / These places are dry and empty with only very few plants.


In North American deserts, there are plants because of the red-brown soil but in the Sahara Desert, there is only pure white sand and no soil.


It is surprising that many animals can survive in a place with little water, no plants and covered with only white sand.


They were not quick enough to adjust to the changes in their environment.


A sand stink moves through the sand just like how a fish swims in the water, using its legs as fins and hard scales on its skin to protect its body.
  6. There is a layer of transparent skin over its eyes to protect the eyes.
  7. It is the puddles of water from desert rainstorms.
  8. They are big, so they are strong enough to carry heavy loads. They have large feet like snowshoes that help them move in the desert without sinking.
  9. It can drink up to one hundred and eighteen liters of water in a day which it then stores in its body for use over several days.
  10. It has stored fats in its humps that will provide the energy for it to travel for days in the desert without eating.

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Comprehension 1


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