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March 4, 2013 | By Amina Khan
Two skulls found in the Panama Canal Zone shed new light on the migration history of caimans, southern relatives of the alligator - and also hint that North and South America were much closer together earlier than previously thought. The new study released Monday by the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology finds that some creatures may have made the leap more than 19 million years ago, 10 million years earlier than mammals did and well before Panama finally filled the continental gap. The formation of the Isthmus of Panama around 3 million years ago had profound effects on global climate and on the continents' biodiversity.
September 26, 2012 | By Rene Lynch
An alligator attacked an 84-year-old Florida woman in the canal behind her home, ripping off one of her arms. The woman, identified as Carol Hough of Leesburg, was pulled from the waters by a neighbor who heard her cries for help, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Hough was airlifted to a hospital where she underwent surgery; she is reportedly in critical condition. Authorities quickly began attempting to locate the alligator that attacked Hough and now believe they've identified the one responsible.
July 30, 2012 | By Rene Lynch
Talk about adding insult to injury: A Florida tour boat captain whose left hand was eaten by an alligator has been charged with illegally feeding the reptiles. Wallace Weatherholt, 63, now faces a misdemeanor charge of unlawful feeding of an alligator, and is slated to return to court on Aug. 22 to face the charges, according to the Fort Myers News-Press. He faces a fine of up to $500 and possible jail time, the paper reported. The defendant was working for Captain Doug's Everglades Tours last month when he took six tourists out on the water and paused to give them a thrill -- and a photo op. Witnesses say he began slapping the water to attract alligators, using marshmallows and fish as bait.
July 10, 2012 | By Rene Lynch
If you find yourself in the jaws of an alligator, fight like your life depends upon it. Because it does, says a Florida alligator expert. Frank Mazzotti, a wildlife ecology and conservation professor and alligator expert at the University of Florida's Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center , offered up this suggestion and other tips for emerging in one piece after an admittedly unlikely encounter with an alligator. We asked Mazzotti for the advice after some unsettling news out of the Sunshine State: Two Florida residents have lost limbs to alligators in the past few weeks.
July 10, 2012 | By Rene Lynch
An alligator attacked 17-year-old Kaleb Langdale on Monday, severing his right arm below the elbow, but it didn't take the Florida teenager's sense of humor.  Friends say he was happy the gator got his right arm -- not his left -- because he uses his left arm to steer his airboat. The alligator attacked the teenager after the youth dove into a gator-filled river to cool off on a sweltering summer day. The teen's arm was found inside the 11-foot reptile when it was hunted down and killed Monday evening, according to Fort Myers television station WBBH.
July 4, 2012 | By Rene Lynch
The 4th of July must be celebrated with a bit of patriotic music, right? But we can do better than the 1812 Overture or John Philip Sousa: Let's watch alligators singing patriotic music! This video comes to us from reptile expert and conservationist Jim Nesci . It features Nesci's gators bellowing along to country artist Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA. " We just had to call Nesci and ask: How did you train the alligators to do that? Turns out, the gators just did it on their own. Here's the back story to the video: "I happened to be down in the basement one day and I had the radio on. I cranked up 'God Bless the USA,' just because I happen to like that song," Nesci told the Los Angeles Times.
July 4, 2012 | Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times
SAN DIEGO On her first full day in her new home, Xiao was tentative Tuesday, but the sun finally lured her out of the pool onto the sand. Xidi was less adventuresome, preferring the water. The pair of Chinese alligators had just arrived at the San Diego Zoo from the St. Augustine (Fla.) Alligator Farm Zoological Park as part of a long-term strategy to keep the species from going extinct in the wild. The alligators are among the smallest and most endangered members of the crocodilian family.
June 25, 2012 | By Cristy Lytal
On the Louisiana set of “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” last summer, Jeff Galpin wasn't worried about vampires baring their fangs at the cast and crew. He had other creatures in mind. “They were filming in the bottoms of some creeks, and we made sure there were no snakes or alligators around to hurt any of the actors or extras,” said the 43-year-old swamp expert. “There were lots of snakes on that set - water moccasins, corn snakes and some king snakes. Most of the time, we just put them in a sack and walk to a different location and let them go. We try to put everything back alive like we found it.” In the Fox horror flick, which was released Friday, Honest Abe takes a violent approach to the bloodthirsty vampires plotting to overthrow the United States.
June 14, 2012 | By Rene Lynch
A Florida tour boat captain suspected of illegally feeding alligators may already have suffered the ultimate punishment: An alligator bit off his hand. Animal rights activists on Thursday denounced the decision to kill the alligator in a bid to recover the man's hand. They said the captain, who is now under investigation for feeding the animals, is to blame for teaching the fearsome creature that people = food. Wallace Weatherholt, 63, who works for Captain Doug's Everglades Tours, was taking six tourists out on the water Tuesday when he paused to give them a thrill -- and a photo op, according to WBBH of Fort Myers, Fla. He began slapping the water to attract alligators, using marshmallows as bait.
February 3, 2012 | By Mary Forgione, Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
Swamps aren't very sexy. Dank places filled with slithering creatures don't scream tourism, unless you're from Louisiana. So how would one fare in New York City? "Swamps in Louisiana have tremendous adventure-travel opportunities," says Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne. On Wednesday, he flew to un-gator-like Manhattan to oversee the installation of a 12,100-cubic-foot re-creation of a Louisiana swamp built inside the city's bustling Chelsea Market. The exhibit is free and might be a good way to sample the bayou before going to visit.
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