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Tignes, France

One of the highest resorts in Europe, Tignes also offers more skiing in winter and in summer than pretty well anywhere else, thanks to its high altitude skiing on the Grande Motte glacier and its commitment to maintain a vertical of at least 1000 metres (3280 feet) for eight months of the year. Sharing the vast and exciting 'l'Espace Killy ' ski area with neighbouring Val d'Isère, purpose-built Tignes has the stronger French influence of the two, as well as being largely based at a higher and more snow-sure altitude.

There are in fact five base areas to Tignes, although three of them - Le Lac, Le Lavachet and Val Claret - more or less run in to one another to form the main section. They stand together in a vast snowy bowl above the tree line resembling some sort of isolated moon base, from a distance. Further down the mountain, but lift linked to l'espace Killy are Les Boisses and Les Brévières and there are three traditional villages along the valley floor on the road to Val d'Isère (Le Reculaz, Le Chevril and Le Villaret du Nial), but these are not lift-linked.

Interestingly the original base is Le Lac, the relocated genuine village of Tignes that was submerged under Lake Chevril following the construction of a dam in 1952. The church bell was the only physical momento to be carried up to the new village site, but the spirit of skiing which began in 'old Tignes' in the 1920s was certainly carried forward with spectacular results!

Lodging Profile

21 hotels, 14 rental agencies, 5 hotel residences, 11 holiday centers, 2 holiday clubs, and 72 private landlords.

Services Profile

There are 6 mountain restaurants on the resort and 78 restaurant located nearby; cuisines ranging from American, Creperie, French Regional, Gastronomique, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, and Savoyard. 130 shops located nearby along with 4 banks, 4 post offices, 1 petrol station, 5 laundrettes, car rental, and a Protestant Church. The nearest town is Bourg St Maurice which is 30 km away. Child care is not available at this resort. Ski school is available for 4 year olds to adults. Free bus service 24 hours a day.

Snowboarding Profile

Snow park and 2 halfpipes, quarter pipes, and boarder cross are available for snowboarders at the resort.

Common Misspellings

Dignes, Teens, Tegnies, Teignes, Tiges

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Dinosaur-eating crocodiles in Sahara

The primitive crocodiles, which lived 100m years ago, were good swimmers but were also capable of galloping

Fossil hunters have uncovered the remains of primitive crocodiles that "galloped" on land and patrolled the broad rivers that coursed through north Africa one hundred million years ago.

The skeletons of five creatures that walked with dinosaurs – and ate them – were unearthed in remote and rocky regions of what are now Morocco and Niger during a series of expeditions in the Sahara desert.

Three of the crocodiles are new species and include Kaprosuchus saharicus, a 6.5m-long beast with three sets of dagger-like tusks and an armoured snout for ramming its prey.

Another species, Laganosuchus thaumastos, was of similar length but had a pancake-flat head and is thought to have lurked in rivers with its jaws open, waiting for unsuspecting fish to pass.

The most striking feature the beasts have in common was revealed by their bone structure, which suggests they were efficient swimmers but that when they clambered ashore they were also capable of galloping across the plains. Modern crocodiles crawl on their bellies because their legs sprawl out to the side.

"My African crocs appeared to have had both upright, agile legs for bounding overland and a versatile tail for paddling in water," writes Paul Sereno, a palaeontologist at the University of Chicago, in National Geographic Magazine. "These species open a window on a croc world completely foreign to what was living on northern continents."

The third new species, Araripesuchus rattoides, was only a metre long and probably used a pair of buckteeth in its lower jaw to dig for grubs.

The other two crocodiles unearthed during the expedition are known species. One had a wide, overhanging snout containing sensory areas that it used to sniff out prey in shallow waters. The other had a soft, dog-like nose and is thought to have been extremely agile.

Most of the fossils were found near the site where, in 2001, Sereno uncovered a 12m-long crocodile that lived 110m years ago. The beast, nicknamed SuperCroc, weighed around eight tonnes. The latest fossils are described in the journal ZooKeys.

"We were surprised to find so many species from the same time in the same place," said Hans Larsson, a palaeontologist at the University of Montreal, who took part in the expedition. "Each of the crocs apparently had different diets, different behaviours. It appears they had divided up the ecosystem, each species taking advantage of it in its own way."

The expedition was sponsored by National Geographic, which airs a documentary about the discoveries, When Crocs Ate Dinosaurs, at 5pm on Sunday 20 December on the Nat Geo Wild channel.

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Unstoppable Tottenham

Jermain Defoe will get most of the plaudits for this huge victory, and rightly so, but the striker will no doubt be among the first to praise the service he received from Niko Kranjcar and Aaron Lennon

Tottenham Hotspur 9

Crouch 9, Defoe 51, Defoe 54, Defoe 58, Lennon 64, Defoe 69, Defoe 87, Kirkland (og) 88, Kranjcar 90

Wigan Athletic 1

Scharner 57

There is simply no containing Tottenham Hotspur on occasions such as these. To gawp at the sight of this team shredding Wigan was to acknowledge that, where Manchester City have the money and Liverpool the expectation, Spurs boast the firepower to keep them in the top four this term. At their slick best, this side is utterly irrepressible.

Jermain Defoe's seven-minute hat-trick, and a five-goal haul all plundered after half-time, took the breath away but this was a remarkable show of team attacking. Aaron Lennon, recovered from an ankle injury, and Niko Kranjcar offered contrasting if equally stunning play on either flank. Tom Huddlestone and Wilson Palacios steamrollered a Wigan midfield that is normally physically imposing. The Latics departed the pitch a collection of quivering wrecks. Real psychological damage may have been inflicted.

For Spurs this result will merely swell conviction. They are back level with Arsenal, pepped by a nine-goal swing in goal difference this weekend and the memories of the frustrations endured at the Emirates and at home to Stoke have been partially erased. Wigan will survey the wreckage of this scoreline and wonder at the reality that, at half-time, it was Harry Redknapp who had been livid at the way this contest had been veering. Tottenham may have scored early through Peter Crouch but momentum had petered out and slackness set in. "They needed reminding at the break," said Redknapp. Lessons were heeded to devastating effect.

The helter-skelter nature of Tottenham's dominance thereafter, and Wigan's capitulation, was hard to comprehend. The goals that flurried were all horribly sloppy in their concession, yet ruthlessly taken: Defoe's thumped volley from close range evaded Titus Bramble; Emmerson Boyce failed to intercept Palacios's through-ball for the England striker to add an immediate third; another Lennon sprint to the by-line away from Erik Edman and centre for Defoe to complete the hat-trick.

Lennon added the fifth, spitting a low shot beyond a visibly shaken Kirkland and into the far corner, with Defoe's fourth and fifth both pilfered from that same area. By then, the visitors' resistance had evaporated. Edman's abject attempt to cut out the pass for the seventh summed up the Swede's hapless return to his former club, though the agony did not end there.

The substitute David Bentley's free-kick cannoned in via the woodwork and the back of Kirkland's head before Kranjcar spun and revelled in the ninth when the ball crashed in off the crossbar.

The wingers' displays were, in their own ways, as much of a fillip as Defoe's bite. Lennon's zip and improved awareness make him a full-back's nightmare these days. Edman looked a broken man at the final whistle and will be haunted by this experience for some time. Fabio Capello should be buoyed. Kranjcar's abilities are more sedate, his influence more serene but his clever passing illuminated Spurs' midfield, with the hustle and bustle of Palacios and Huddlestone in the centre eclipsing the Latics' shambolic attempts to stifle.

Wigan have never endured a defeat this comprehensive in their 31-year existence as a league club. In truth, they were lucky to ship only nine. Their manager, Roberto Martínez, has only been in management for a little over two years and admirably attempted to write this off as freak, though his team have conceded 31 times in 13 games now this term. "The result is not normal but I'm not bothered about the final scoreline," he said. "I'm more bothered about how naive we were. We'll get stronger from this. You learn a lot from situations like this and the damage of this game will not be carried into the next match. We have enough characters in the dressing room and will react the right way."

Their revival must begin at home to Sunderland on Saturday while Tottenham attempt to maintain momentum at Aston Villa. Their only blemish here – other than a first-half dip in their power and poise – was Paul Scharner's consolation, though even that should not have stood. The Austrian cradled Hugo Rodallega's cross with his right arm as blatantly as Thierry Henry had collected with his hand in the Stade de France last week, before belting his shot in off the bar. Robbie Keane, warming up on the touchline, must have wished the Republic of Ireland had been as clinical as his club-mates to render that handball irrelevant.

Spurs, of course, must now prove they have the pedigree to reproduce form this impressive regularly. The collision at Villa Park will test whether this really was a unique occasion, though few clubs in this division boast the attacking options now at Redknapp's disposal.

Jermaine Jenas, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Robbie Keane began this drubbing on the bench. How Arsenal, shorn of Robin van Persie, must privately wish they had this amount of firepower in reserve.

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10 places to swim with sharks

The only sounds are breath and bubbles. A tuna head floats just feet away. I peer through the blue to the limits of my visibility, straining to see that tell-tale shape emerge from the murky edges of the water. Suddenly, a frantic tap on my shoulder from a fellow diver forces me to pivot to my right, and there, barely a foot away, is one the world’s greatest predators — his black eye staring right into my wide blue ones as he slowly glides past the cage. I had met my first Great White Shark...

The fear elicited by sharks — by the very idea of something toothy and hungry lurking beneath the surface — is primeval. But it is also, for the most part, unfounded. Sharks don’t want to eat humans. We’re far too bony. They want to eat fish or seals or even plankton. Sharks are actually in far more danger from us than we are from them. Millions are slaughtered for their fins every year, putting dozens of species in danger of extinction. And if we lose the apex predator in the ocean, the whole eco-system is in danger. Already, scientists have traced the shortage of sharks to the shortage of shellfish in U.S. waters. What else might disappear from our oceans along with the shark? Fortunately, there are places in the world where you can still see these powerful predators in their natural habitat, dive with them — even swim alongside them. While diving with some of the bigger sharks is an inherently perilous activity (those teeth weren’t made for smiling), steel cages and experienced shark professionals minimize the danger. And it might just turn out to be one of the most exhilarating and exciting experiences of your life...
By Tina Cone
10 places to swim with sharks

South AfricaFrom Gansbaai, the self billed “World Capital of the Great White Shark”, you can get on a dive boat to the infamous Shark Alley. Rumor has it that there are more Great Whites in that one stretch of ocean than anywhere else on the planet. And at nearby Seal Island, you might even get to witness an astonishing sight: Great White sharks literally leaping out of the water as they hunt seals. Plenty of diving operations offer you the chance to see the sharks underwater in a cage, or to enjoy them from the relative safety of the boat. And many operators don’t require you to be a certified diver either, so snorkelers are welcome.
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Guadalupe Island, Mexico
 For Americans looking for something closer to home, try Guadalupe Island — about 144 miles from the coast of Baja California. I had my first experience cage diving with Great White sharks here in 2007, and not only was the water warm and surprisingly clear, but we saw Great Whites on every single dive. And seeing those massive, magnificent animals — I once heard them described as camper vans with teeth — in the wild was the most amazing experience of my life. This excursion is an excellent introduction to shark diving because certification isn't required.
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Galapagos Islands
 As well as the spectacular array of fauna that inspired Charles Darwin to realize his theory of evolution, this Ecuadorian paradise is also home to some of the world’s best shark dive sites. You can see huge schools of Hammerhead sharks and dozens of Whitetip sharks, Silky Sharks, Whale Sharks and of course, Galapagos Sharks.
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Cocos Island, Costa Rica
 For experienced divers only, this island off the coast of Costa Rica has more sharks per cubic yard of water than anywhere else in the world. Divers regularly see huge schools of hammerhead sharks — literally hundreds of them swimming together. And there are dozens of other sharks swimming around this island, including Tiger sharks, Whitetip sharks, Silvertip sharks, Blacktip sharks, Silky sharks, Galapagos sharks and Whale Sharks. Cocos Island is a must-see on any shark lover’s bucket list — mine included.
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The MaldivesThe honeymoon destination of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes has much more to offer than just sun, sea and sand. It has sharks. More than 26 different species call this island country in the Indian Ocean home, including Hammerhead sharks, Whale sharks, Whitetip sharks and Grey Reef sharks.
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The Bahamas
Warm seas mean plenty of sharks. You can snorkel above Caribbean Reef sharks (that’s the way I introduced myself to shark diving before jumping in with Great Whites), and watch them feed at the surface from the safety of the boat. Or, for the more adventurous diver, you can watch as a professional shark wrangler hand-feeds Reefies on the ocean floor right in front of you. The Bahamas is also home to the Tiger shark, Great Hammerhead shark, Lemon shark, Silky shark, Nurse shark and the notorious Bull shark.
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Malapascua, Philippine
sDive companies here virtually guarantee that you will see the elusive and rare Thresher shark in the waters off Malapascua. And that’s not all that this tiny island offers. It’s also a popular place to see Hammerhead sharks, Whitetip sharks, Blacktip sharks, Bamboo sharks and Nurse sharks.
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Isla Holbox, Mexico
This is one of the best places in the world to see the biggest fish in the ocean, and the gentlest shark of them all, the Whale Shark. Called “Dominos” by the locals — thanks to the distinctive white spots on their backs — these huge fish can grow up to 30 feet long. But they only eat plankton, so swimmers are perfectly safe. To protect the sharks, the Mexican government only allows snorkelers, accompanied by a guide, to swim with them. I spent three days doing exactly that this summer, and believe me, there is nothing quite like swimming right in front of one of the biggest mouths in the sea.
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Red Sea, Egypt
Visitors to this world-renowned dive destination have seen dozens of species, including Grey Reef sharks, Silvertip sharks, Silky sharks, Hammerhead sharks and Whale Sharks. You might even see the increasingly rare Oceanic Whitetip shark, the predator suspected of eating so many shipwrecked sailors and plane crash victims over the years. And at the Ras Mohamed dive site, there have even been rare sightings of Great Whites.
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Rhode Island
The fictional “Jaws” was actually inspired by real shark attacks along the New Jersey shore in 1916. Nowadays, you’re far more likely to find Eastern Seaboard sharks off the coast of Rhode Island instead. Blue sharks are most prevalent, but divers can also encounter Mako sharks and Basking sharks. There are rare reports of Thresher shark sightings, and even the occasional Great White.
Further information:

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