Combining enormous physical strength with higher intelligence, the Neanderthals

Question

Combining enormous physical strength with higher intelligence, the Neanderthals appear as equipped for facing any obstacle the environment could put in their path, but their relatively sudden disappearance during the Paleolithic era indicates that an inability to adapt to some environmental change led to their extinction.

Option A
Option B
Option C
Option D
Option E

(This question is from Official Guide. Therefore, because of copyrights, the complete question cannot be copied here. The question can be accessed at GMAT Club)

Solution

Sentence Analysis

The sentence starts with a verb-ing modifier modifying “Neanderthals”. The Neanderthals had enormous physical strength and higher intelligence. (Please note that there is ‘higher’ without ‘than’. You may see so in other official questions as well. In general, ‘-er’ constructions are followed by ‘than’. However, in some cases, they are not. If given two similar options, I will suggest to always go with an option that has the complete ‘-er than’ structure)

It appears that Neanderthals were equipped to face any obstacle that the environment could put in their path. (Please note that ‘that’ after ‘obstacle’ has been skipped in the original sentence. Such skipping is fine when ‘that’ functions as an object in the ‘that clause’. For example: I have eaten all the chocolates that Mary gave me.)

The sentence then begins another independent clause, using ‘comma+but’. The Neanderthals suddenly disappeared during some era. This fact indicates that their inability to adapt to some environmental change caused their extinction.

There are two errors in the original sentence:

  1. “Neanderthals appear as equipped” means they right now appear as equipped. However, the sentence specifies that they are extinct now.
  2. “equipped to verb” is the correct way just as “able to verb” is the correct way. “equipped for verb-ing” is wrong just as “able for verb-ing” is wrong. Therefore, “equipped for facing” is wrong.

Option Analysis

(A) Incorrect. For the errors mentioned above.

(B) Correct. This option corrects both the errors in the original sentence. Some test takers have problem understanding this structure “appear to have been equipped”. According to them, since the verb ‘appear’ is in the present tense, this option also talks about Neanderthals in the present, just as the original sentence did. Here are a couple of sentences that may help in understanding this structure:

  1. She claims to have met a number of famous people.
  2. He pretends to have lost her number.

In the first sentence, the main verb is in the simple present tense: “claims”. However, the idea communicated in the structure “to have met” i.e. ‘the idea of meeting’ happened before the present. Right? We are not saying that she meets a number of people. The “meeting” part happened in the past.

Similarly, in the second sentence, “losing her number” happened in the past. Right? This is not an action in the present. The action in the present is “pretending”.

Similarly, in this option, when we say that Neanderthals appear to have been equipped, we do not mean that they are equipped right now. They were equipped sometime in the past. However, this fact is what appears'' to us now.

(C) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. Error no. 1 of the original sentence.
  2. Since we are talking about a singular ‘obstacle’, it is logical to talk about the singular ‘path’ since one obstacle could not have been put in many paths!

(D) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. The use of simple present ‘indicates’ in the second independent clause indicates that the sentence is talking about the present. Therefore, we need simple present “appear” as the verb, instead of “appeared”. Logically also, the sentence seems to say that it ‘appears’ that Neanderthals were equipped. It doesn’t seem to say that it so appeared in the past but not now.
  2. Problem no. 2 of option C

(E) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. Error no. 1 of option D
  2. Error no. 2 of the original sentence

About Chiranjeev Singh

An Alumnus of IIM Ahmedabad and with a score of 780 (2017) and 770 (2013) on GMAT and 99.98%ile on CAT, Chiranjeev is one of the most qualified GMAT tutors in India. Chiranjeev has earlier served as Director of Curriculum at e-GMAT. Chiranjeev has been helping students ace GMAT since 2012. He follows a concept-based methodology to teaching GMAT and is very committed to student success. You may contact him for any private GMAT tutoring needs at +91 9971 0010 67 or CJ@GMATwithCJ.com. He conducts online sessions for students across the world.

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