Killer Whale (Resident Orca)"Killer Whale (Resident Orca)" by Shawn McCready is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

This session is a brief introduction to the fascinating world of Marine Biology. The activities proposed here provide valuable information about water mammals and how they have evolved throughout history.
The section devoted to Language Tools will present various relative pronouns and the use of relative clauses.


A. Before we start. How much do you know about water mammals?
Challenge #1

Do you know the names of the following water mammals? Show your expertise and warping speed to other students by completing the following challenge with zero mistakes as fast as you can.

NOTE: For bigger images click on the fullscreen icon  


Due to COVID-19, the listening test has been cancelled. Check new assessment procedure below.

100% of the mark
(January 2021)
  •   Reading comprehension
  •   Culture landmarks 1-6
  •   Grammar
  •   Writing


  • Challenge #1: Water mammals
  • Challenge #2: Whale body parts
  • Challenge #3: Relative bank robbery
  • Evolution: Great Transformations
  • Transcribe
  • Answer the A/B/C/D questions
  • Open questions
  Oral practice
  • Prepare yourself for presentations
  • Relative clauses
  Language tools
  • Relative pronouns
  • Building up sentences with relative clauses


7. Immune war against HIV

6. Chemistry in fiction

5. Mercury pollution

4. Fortnite

3. Artificial Intelligence

2. The story of One

1. Animals that count


Watch a 3-minute extract from the PBS documentary Evolution: Great Transformations (from 03'16" to 06'10") and answer the questions.

Evolution and whales

B. Transcribe.

Transcription: Write down the first sentence in the video, from “Human” to “arrived”. If you cannot find all the words, write what you hear even if you think it makes no sense.

C. Answer the questions.

1. As Neil Shubin explains, it is possible to take the entire history of the planet down to one hour: what appeared during the first 50 minutes of that hour?

Check answer

2. Which of the following traits defining mammals is NOT mentioned?

Check answer

Why are whales an evolutionary puzzle? Because....

Check answer

4. According to Gingerich, we are fascinated by whales. Which reason does he NOT give for that?

Check answer


D. How much do you know about whale body parts?
Challenge #2

Do you know the names of the following body parts? Look at the diagram of the whale and connect the names to the right parts. Will you be faster and more precise than other players?

NOTE: Don't forget to click on the fullscreen icon  

Now watch another 2-minute extract from the same documentary (from 06'11" to 08'32") and answer the questions.

Gingerich's discovery

E. Answer the questions.

1. When and why did Gingerich go into geology?

2. Where did Gingerich discover his fossil?

3. What was it similar to?

4. What was surprising about the fossil?

5. What could this fossil possibly prove?


Joshua Lederberg
4. Joshua Lederberg

3. Robert Boyle

2. Ada Lovelace

1. Katherine Johnson


Improve your English speaking, listening and writing skills with Duolingo, a free, fun-to-use app.



Whale chart

Whale chart
Source: Pinterest.com


Whale Valley map

Whale Valley, Egypt
Source: Smithsonian Magazine

Whale Valley

Skeleton at Whale Valley
Source: Reddit.com



Source: Wikipedia.org

An extinct order of carnivorous mammals that lived from the Paleocene to the Miocene epochs. Because they both possess carnassial teeth, creodonts and carnivorans were once thought to have shared a common ancestor.
Creodonts were the first large, obviously carnivorous mammals in the late Paleocene. During the Paleogene, they were the most abundant form of terrestrial carnivore in the Old World.

Creodont skull

Creodont skull
Source: Pikuki.com


Now watch the final 4-minute extract from the documentary (from 08'32" to 13'03") and answer the questions.

More surprises...

F. Answer the questions.

1. What are “transitional forms”?

2. Why was Gingerich unable to go back to Pakistan?

3. Where did he go?

4. Why is the place called "Valley of the Whales"?

5. How old are the skeletons?

6. What explanation does Gingerich believe could explain the presence of so many whale skeletons?

7. What is the name of the whale to which the skeletons belonged?

8. What extraordinary finding did they reveal?


Layered sandstone

Layered sandstone
Source: Fine Art America

Mushroom rock

Mushroom rock in the Sahara Desert, Egypt
Source: Geofacts.in

Marco Island (US)

Lagoon surrounded by sandbars in Florida, US
Source: Pinterest.com


Oral practice
Prepare yourself for oral presentations.

Now you are Philip Gingerich, and you are going to present your discovery to the scientific community. Take a few notes and then record your discourse with your phone/tablet/computer. Listen to your performance and give/take your own constructive criticism.
If you are brave enough, you can record a video and send it to your teacher for assessment.


Source: synapsiscreative.com

Phone recording


Language Tools

Relative clauses

The following video is a short and clear explanation about how to use relative clauses

Challenge #3
G. You work for the local newspaper and you're writing an article on a bank robbery that happened yesterday. Type in the correct relative pronouns to make your story perfect. Note: you only have 5 minutes to complete the challenge.
Bank robbery

Source: freepik.com

Now you are ready to do exercises H and I.

H. Choose the correct answer.

   Who’s that over there?
   Oh, it’s our new teacher, ..... just started work today.

Check answer

   Which gift did you get Marcus in the end?
   I got him the one ..... said he really wanted.

Check answer

   Who did you send a Valentine’s card to?
   I'm not telling you but it was someone ..... name begins with "B".

Check answer

   Have you seen Jason Green’s latest film?
   Is that the one in ..... he joins the FBI?

Check answer

   Why do you like Tania so much?
   Well, she’s one of the few people to ..... I can really talk.

Check answer

   Why don't we go to Lionel's for dinner tonight?
   Is that the new restaurant ..... has just opened on the other side of town?

Check answer

   Could you lend me some money?
   I’d like you to give me some good reason ..... I should.

Check answer

   What do you want to do this summer?
   I think we should go somewhere ..... has plenty of sun and sand.

Check answer

I. Rewrite as one sentence using a relative clause. Use the text in the boxes as hints to build up your sentences.

1. My friend, Simon, plays the guitar. He has just released a new album.

2. All electors must be heard. Their votes are crucial.

3. Microsoft has a lot of power in the world of computers. That annoys some people.

4. The euro replaced a number of national currencies. It was introduced in 2002.

5. Peter is my best friend. I wrote a letter to him yesterday.

6. 1984 was written by George Orwell. His real name was Eric Blair.

7. The greyhound can reach speeds of over 65 kilometres an hour. This is impressive.

8. This actress is quite famous. These flowers arrived for her.



Refers to people only

Marie Curie, who discovered radium, was Polish.


Refers to people only

That is the girl with whom I work.


Refers to objects

My cat did not come back home last night, which is strange.


Refers to people and objects

The book that I've just bought deals with whales.


Refers to people (though accepted for objects nowadays)

My neighbour, whose son broke my window, came to apologise earlier today.


Refers to places

I honestly don't know where I have left your keys, sorry.


Refers to time

He will call me when they arrive, or so he said.


Refers to reasons

There is always a reason why people do stupid things.



Source: wikipedia.org


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