10 Other Things That Happened on May 5

Napoleon I dies, via Getty Images
Napoleon I dies, via Getty Images

While Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican army's victory over Napoleon's French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, it's not the only historic thing to have happened on May 5. Here are 10 more.

1. CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS LANDS IN JAMAICA


Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

In 1494, Christopher Columbus landed on the island of Jamaica and claimed it for Spain.

2. FIRST WOMAN IS AWARDED A U.S. PATENT

In 1809, Mary Kies became the first woman awarded a U.S. patent, for a technique of weaving straw with silk and thread.

3. KARL MARX IS BORN


Friedrich Karl Wunder, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

In 1818, political philosopher Karl Marx was born in Trier, Germany. In a twist of irony, it costs about $6 to visit the famed anti-capitalist's gravesite in London.

4. NAPOLEON DIES WHILE IN EXILE


Getty Images

In 1821, at the age of 51, Napoleon Bonaparte died while still in exile on St. Helena. At the time, his
personal physician reported on the death certificate that the emperor had died of stomach cancer,
which was consistent with reports that he suffered from abdominal pain and nausea in the last weeks of his life. But his body remained remarkably well preserved, a common side effect of arsenic poisoning, inspiring centuries of suspicion about foul play.

5. FIRST U.S. TRAIN ROBBERY TAKES PLACE

In 1865,  the first U.S. train robbery took place in North Bend, Ohio. According to one newspaper report, "While everything was wild with confusion, the desperadoes entered, and with the vilest oaths, demanded the money and valuables of the passengers."

6. CARNEGIE HALL OPENS


Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

Although the building had been in use since April, May 5, 1891 marked the official opening night of New York City's Carnegie Hall. And the storied venue kicked off things in an impressive way with a concert conducted by Walter Damrosch and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

7. CY YOUNG THROWS BASEBALL'S FIRST PERFECT GAME


Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

In 1904, the Boston Americans' Cy Young threw the first perfect game in the modern era of baseball.

8. JOHN T. SCOPES VIOLATES THE BUTLER ACT

In 1925, John T. Scopes was served an arrest warrant for teaching evolution in violation of the Butler Act.

9. ALAN SHEPARD BECOMES AMERICA'S FIRST SPACE TRAVELER


Getty Images

In 1961, Alan B. Shepard, Jr., became America's first space traveler when he made a 15-minute suborbital flight in a capsule launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

10. THE UNABOMBER STRIKES

In 1982, a Unabomber bomb exploded in the computer science department at Vanderbilt University; secretary Janet Smith was injured.

The Mongolian Princess Who Challenged Her Suitors to a Wrestling Match—and Always Won

iStock.com / SarahWouters1960
iStock.com / SarahWouters1960

In a lot of fairy tales, a disapproving father or a witch's curse stops the princess from finding Prince Charming. But things were a little different in 13th-century Mongolia. Any single lad, regardless of status or wealth, could marry the khan's daughter, Khutulun. There was just one caveat, which the princess herself decreed—you couldn't take her hand in marriage until you took her down in a wrestling match. If you lost, you had to give her a handful of prize horses.

Sounds easy, right? Nope. After all, this is the great-great-granddaughter of Genghis Khan we're talking about!

Born around 1260, Khutulun was an intimidating presence. According to The Travels of Marco Polo, the princess was "so well-made in all her limbs, and so tall and strongly built, that she might almost be taken for a giantess." She was also the picture of confidence. She had mastered archery and horsemanship in childhood and grew up to become a fearless warrior. Whenever her father, Kaidu—the leader of the Chagatai Khanate—went to battle, he usually turned to Khutulun (and not his 14 sons) for help.

Nothing scared her. Not only did Khutulun ride by her father's side into battle, she'd regularly charge headfirst into enemy lines to make "a dash at the host of the enemy, and seize some man thereout, as deftly as a hawk pounces on a bird, and carry him to her father," Marco Polo wrote. The 13th- and 14th-century historian Rashid al-Din was more direct, writing that she "often went on military campaigns, where she performed valiant deeds."

It's no surprise that Khutulun had suitors lining up and down the street asking for her hand in marriage. The princess, however, refused to marry any of them unless they managed to beat her in a wrestling match, stipulating that any loser would have to gift her anywhere between 10 to 100 horses.

Let's just put it this way: Khutulun came home with a lot of prize horses. (Some accounts say 10,000—enough to make even the emperor a little jealous.) As author Hannah Jewell writes in her book She Caused a Riot, "The Mongolian steppes were littered with the debris of shattered male egos."

On one occasion, a particularly confident suitor bet 1000 horses on a match. Khutulun's parents liked the fellow—they were itching to see their daughter get married—so they pulled the princess aside and asked her to throw the match. After carefully listening to her parents' advice, Khutulun entered the ring and, in Polo's words, "threw him right valiantly on the palace pavement." The 1000 horses became hers.

Khutulun would remain undefeated for life. According to legend, she eventually picked a husband on her own terms, settling for a man she never even wrestled. And centuries later, her story inspired François Pétis de La Croi to write the tale of Turandot, which eventually became a famed opera by the composer Giacomo Puccini. (Though the opera fudges the facts: The intrepid princess defeats her suitors with riddles, not powerslams.)

Scientists Find Fossil of 150-Million-Year-Old Flesh-Eating Fish—Plus a Few of Its Prey

M. Ebert and T. Nohl
M. Ebert and T. Nohl

A fossil of an unusual piranha-like fish from the Late Jurassic period has been unearthed by scientists in southern Germany, Australian news outlet the ABC reports. Even more remarkable than the fossil’s age—150 million years old—is the fact that the limestone deposit also contains some of the fish’s victims.

Fish with chunks missing from their fins were found near the predator fish, which has been named Piranhamesodon pinnatomus. Aside from the predator’s razor-sharp teeth, though, it doesn’t look like your usual flesh-eating fish. It belonged to an extinct order of bony fish that lived at the time of the dinosaurs, and until now, scientists didn’t realize there was a species of bony fish that tore into its prey in such a way. This makes it the first flesh-eating bony fish on record, long predating the piranha. 

“Fish as we know them, bony fishes, just did not bite flesh of other fishes at that time,” Dr. Martina Kölbl-Ebert, the paleontologist who found the fish with her husband, Martin Ebert, said in a statement. “Sharks have been able to bite out chunks of flesh, but throughout history bony fishes have either fed on invertebrates or largely swallowed their prey whole. Biting chunks of flesh or fins was something that came much later."

Kölbl-Ebert, the director of the Jura Museum in Eichstätt, Germany, says she was stunned to see the bony fish’s sharp teeth, comparing it to “finding a sheep with a snarl like a wolf.” This cunning disguise made the fish a fearful predator, and scientists believe the fish may have “exploited aggressive mimicry” to ambush unsuspecting fish.

The fossil was discovered in 2016 in southern Germany, but the find has only recently been described in the journal Current Biology. It was found at a quarry where other fossils, like those of the Archaeopteryx dinosaur, have been unearthed in the past.

[h/t the ABC]

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