July 28, 2011

Ryan Lochte     Photo: NicoleElocin/Flickr

Lochte Swims to World Record

In win, American sets first record since '09

American Ryan Lochte set a world record in the 200-meter individual medley at the world swimming championships on Thursday, defeating Michael Phelps for the second time this week. Lochte's time, 1 minute and 54.00 seconds, beat the existing mark by one-tenth of a second and is the first new men's record since 2009, when the world swimming federation banned the use of polyurethane suits after 43 records were broken. “Since they banned those suits, everyone thought a world record would never get touched again,” Lochte told the Associated Press. “I just wanted to show everyone that can happen.” Phelps, who again finished second to Lochte, won gold in the 200-meter butterfly on day four of the championships. His time in Thursday's race against Lochte was a personal best. 

Read more at the New York Times

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    Photo: KRO-Media/Flickr

Connecticut Lion Was From South Dakota

Cat killed in CT had walked 2,000 miles

A male mountain lion that was hit by a car in Connecticut in June had traveled as many as 2,000 miles from South Dakota, according to DNA testing performed by state and federal wildlife officials. The mountain lion's journey likely took it across Michigan's upper peninsula, into Ontario, Canada, then south back to the United States. The trip is one of the longest ever recorded by a North American land mammal. Mountain lions, though numerous in the western United States, rarely stray more than 100 miles from their home territories. The cat was killed crossing the Wilbur Cross Parkway in Milford on June 11. Scat samples suggest that it was the same animal responsible for mountain lion sightings in Minnesota and Wisconsin in 2009 and 2010. Connecticut has not been visited by a wild mountain lion in more than 100 years.

Read more at the Associated Press

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Grizzly bear     Photo: ilashdesigns/Flickr

Hikers in Banff Must Carry Spray

Wary of bears, park will fine violators

Officials from Canada's Banff National Park announced that hikers must carry bear spray through September 15 or face a $25,000 fine, a move that makes the park Canada's first to enact a bear-spray mandate. Parks Canada, concerned by a rising number of human-bear conflicts, will also require visitors to travel in groups of four or more. Earlier this month, a woman and her daughter startled a mother grizzly in Banff's Aylmer Pass, where hikers were attacked in 2001 and 2005. On Sunday, a grizzly mauled four teens who were hiking in Alaska, two-and-a-half weeks after a grizzly in Wyoming's Yellowstone National Park killed a man on July 6. Experts now believe that bear spray, the main ingredient of which is pepper, is more effective in defending against bear attacks than a firearm. Perhaps because of drought conditions or broader environmental changes, 2011 has seen more human-bear interactions than normal. "[W]e want people to understand just how serious the situation is if they choose to go hiking there," says Steve Michel, Banff's wildlife-conflict specialist.

Read more at the Vancouver Sun

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Archaeopteryx     Photo: digital cat/Flickr

New Fossil Stirs Evolutionary Revision

Archaeopteryx likely wasn't first bird

A fossil recently discovered in China has scientists questioning which species first made the evolutionary transition from dinosaur to bird. Researchers have long believed that Archaeopteryx, a feathered animal with lizard-like features, bridged the gap. (Is is also the namesake of gear company Arc`teryx.) But palaeontologists in China have discovered a feathered fossil, Xiaotingia zhengi, that appears closely related to both Archaeopteryx and dinosaurs Velociraptor and Microraptor. In linking Archaeopteryx to a species clearly in the dinosaur category, the research hints that Archaeopteryx may have been a cousin, and not a forefather, of the world's earliest birds. "[W]e've learned Archaeopteryx's uniquely avian traits weren't so unique," says Ohio University professor Lawrence Witmer.

Read more at Nature

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