AP Biology Practice Test 4:
Origin of Living Systems

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Question 1
Which scientists tested the hypothesis that Earth’s early atmosphere was a reducing environment in which organic compounds could have formed from simple molecules?

A
Oparin and Haldane
B
Miller and Urey
C
Cech and Altman
D
Conway and Morris
Question 1 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). In 1953, Miller and Urey, of the University of Chicago, tested the Oparin-Haldane hypothesis by creating laboratory conditions similar to those that the scientists at the time thought existed on early Earth.
Question 2
The fossil record is a significant record of the history of life, but it is an incomplete record of evolutionary change. Many fossils have been destroyed by geologic processes and many are yet to be discovered. As a result, the known fossil record is biased in favor of species with certain characteristics. Which of the following is not a characteristic that would be included in the fossil record?

A
Species that were abundant
B
Species with hard shells
C
Species that existed for short periods of time
D
Species that were widespread
Question 2 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Species that existed for a short period of time had less of a chance to be represented in the fossil record due to the amount of time they existed.
Question 3
What is the phenomenon that explains the sudden appearance of many phyla of living animals in the fossil record, between 535–525 years ago?

A
Cambrian Explosion
B
Continental Drift
C
Punctuated Equilibrium
D
Permian Mass Extinction
Question 3 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). The Cambrian explosion is the period of time occurring 535–525 million years ago in which large, hard-bodied forms of animals with most of the major body plans known today appeared in the fossil record.
Question 4
The first cells on Earth were likely to be:

A
Amino acids
B
Protobionts
C
Ribozymes
D
Anaerobic prokaryotes
Question 4 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). None of the other choices are “cells.” The first cells were anaerobic heterotrophic prokaryotes that simple absorbed organic molecules from the surrounding environmental to use as its nutrient source.
Question 5
Which of the following is not a step in the formation of the first living cells?

A
The biotic synthesis of small organic molecules
B
The packaging of molecules into droplets with membranes that maintained an internal chemistry different from their surroundings
C
The joining of small molecules into macromolecules
D
The origin of self-replicating molecules that eventually made inheritance possible
Question 5 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). Since this is asking for the steps leading to the formation of the first living cells, the correct answer would be: “The abiotic synthesis of small organic molecules.”
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