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  • B1+ Reading Test

    Read the text about incredible hoaxes and choose the correct answer for each question.

    Incredible hoaxes

    For centuries, people have tried to make money or to look important with hoaxes about anything, from fake discoveries to made-up stories about creatures. Hoaxes can be exciting stories that grab our attention, but they are just clever lies. Here are some hoaxes that have made history.

    The Piltdown Man

    Charles Dawson was passionate about archaeology – the study of ancient cultures by looking for and examining their buildings, tools, and bones. In 1912, he announced that he had found the creature that developed from monkeys into humans. He said to have discovered part of a skull – the bones in our heads – that looked human-like among a pile of small stones near Piltdown village in Sussex, England. Dawson and a fossil expert at the National History Museum worked together and found more pieces of bones and some simple tools in the area. They thought all these belonged to the same person. After putting the pieces of bones together, they suggested that this showed evidence of a human living about 500,000 years ago.

    But in 1949, an expert at the Natural History Museum used special tests and found out that the Piltdown remains were only 50,000 years old. This meant that the Piltdown Man couldn’t be the missing link between monkeys and humans because humans had already evolved into their current form by then. It was also found that the bones were from two different species, a human and a large type of monkey. Under the microscope, it was possible to see that someone had filed them down to make them look human. They also found out that many of the Piltdown site discoveries had been artificially painted to match the colour of the local stones.

    The Fiji Mermaids

    The Fiji mermaids, also known as Feejee mermaids, are nothing like the beautiful, enchanting creatures you might imagine from fantasy films: they are ugly, scary, and quite small – about 30 to 45 cm. Instead of gracefully swimming through clear blue waters, they often appear as if they’re coming out of a nightmare. P.T. Barnum, a famous showman, played a big part in the fame of Fiji mermaids. It is said that he bought the original mermaid from a fisherman in Japan for his circus.

    In 1842, Barnum advertised three mermaids at his American Museum in New York, but what people saw inside was shocking—a creature with the body of a fish and the head of a monkey. Despite, or perhaps because of, this strange display, the mermaid became very popular. In reality, these creatures were fake. They were formed by putting together the front body of a monkey and the tail of a fish.

    America’s Stonehenge

    “America’s Stonehenge” is an intricate network of stone structures in North Salem, New Hampshire, believed to have been built by an ancient civilisation. It’s evident that a native society lived in this area, with carbon dating indicating that some parts of the site could be as old as 4000 years. Some believe that pre-Columbian European migrants may have built this site for religious rituals and ceremonies, although no objects and tools from the Bronze Age have been found in North America.

    The belief in ancient European colonisation in America dates back to the 19th century and has been popularised by various individuals, including archaeologist William Goodwin and author Barry Fell. However, their claims have been dismissed by a wide group of archaeologists due to the lack of reliable evidence. It was thought that it was Goodwin who built the site to recreate ancient megalithic structures.

    Reading comprehension test

    Page 1 of 6

    1 _____ is a hoax involving remains less old than initially believed.


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