Good News in History, August 15

9 years ago today, the Smithsonian institute felt it had enough evidence to announce the first new carnivorous mammal to be discovered in the Americas in 35 years. The olinguito (Bassaricyon neblina) is a mammal of the raccoon family (Procyonidae) that lives in montane forests in the Andes of western Colombia and Ecuador. Despite being of no conservation concern, these small mammals were regularly seen, but were often mistaken as olingos or the kinkajou, their cousins. READ more… 

Olinguito in the wild. CC 2.0. Mark Gurney

In fact, an olinguito lived at the National Zoo for a year, during which time researchers tried to breed her with the resident olingos, not realizing she was a different species.

Scientists have identified no less than 4 subspecies of this tree-dwelling carnivore that also eats fruit, and they can dwell at altitudes as high as 9,000 feet above sea level, making it the highest living member of the genus.

MORE Good News on this Day:

The Mayflower launched from a pier in Southampton, England, after needing repairs following a previous launch that had to turn back from their voyage to the shores at Plymouth Rocks (1620)
Tivoli Gardens opened — and is still intact today — in Copenhagen, Denmark (1843)
Thomas Edison made the first-ever recording — “Mary Had a Little Lamb” (1877)
Julia Child, the chef, author, and television personality known for bringing French cuisine to the American public with her debut cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, was born (1912)
The Wizard of Oz, a musical fantasy film starring Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, and Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch, premiered at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, in Hollywood (1939)
Korean Liberation Day (1945)
India gained its independence from the UK after some 200 years of British rule with Jawaharlal Nehru taking office as the first Prime Minister of India, while Mohandas K. Gandhi, the real hero, was absent and, instead, remained in humble service (1947)
Elvis Presley started a five week run at No.1 on the US singles chart with ‘It’s Now Or Never’, a song based on the Italian composition ‘O Sole Mio’ (1960)
A SETI project radio telescope at Ohio State University received a radio signal from deep space; the event is named the “Wow! signal”, for the notation made by a volunteer on the project (1977)
Apocalypse Now, directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, and Martin Sheen—winner of the Palme d’Or—was released (1979)

104 years ago today, American cartoonist Winsor McCay released the first long-form animation film, the Sinking of the Lusitania.

Far from being funny, the 12-minute film depicted the huge British steam liner carrying 2,000 passengers when it was torpedoed by a German submarine. An originator of animated cartoons, he was frustrated when his media bosses, the Hearst empire, downplayed the incident in its newspapers, because they wanted America to stay out of World War I.

So McCay spent all his spare hours producing the film, which took him 22 months to create, telling the tale of the most “dastardly, cowardly act.” 25,000 drawings were sketched and photographed for the musical animation which used the latest cel technology.

It was not until Disney’s feature films in the 1930s that the animation industry caught up with McCay’s level of modernist technique. The seminal film was selected for preservation by the US National Film Registry for its significance. WATCH 8-minutes of the film… (1918)

108 years ago today, the Panama Canal officially opened its gates to ships after completion of one of the largest, most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken.

Photo by Dozenist, CC license

The series of locks and manmade lakes constructed by France and the U.S. connected the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, eliminating the need for a lengthy, hazardous route around South America. (1914)

And on this day in 1965, The Beatles played the first ever stadium concert, performing for 56,000 screaming teens at Shea Stadium in New York City. A pivotal event in rock and roll, John Lennon later called it a career highlight, saying, “I saw the top of the mountain.” The Beatles At Shea became a documentary produced by Ed Sullivan, which included backstage scenes of The Fab Four fooling around in the dressing room, and a 30-minute performance video of their songs: Twist and Shout, She’s a Woman, I Feel Fine, Dizzy Miss Lizzy, Ticket to Ride, Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby, Can’t Buy Me Love, Baby’s in Black, Act Naturally, A Hard Day’s Night, Help!, and I’m Down. Watch a few moments of history below…

Happy 32nd Birthday to Jennifer Lawrence, the actress from Louisville, Kentucky, who became the highest-paid actress in the world in 2015 and 2016.

2018 photo by MTV International, CC license

After being spotted by a talent scout while vacationing in New York City with her family she moved to L.A. Soon, in her breakthrough role that earned her an Oscar nomination, she played a poverty-stricken teenager in the 2010 Academy Award nominated indie film Winter’s Bone. Her career soon skyrocketed following starring roles in the X-Men films and Hunger Games.

Then, at 22 years old, her performance alongside Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook won her the Academy Award for Best Actress—the second-youngest woman ever to win that Oscar.

In 2015, she founded the Jennifer Lawrence Foundation, which has advocated for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the Special Olympics. She was poised to return this year in a new Netflix film from director Adam McKay, called Don’t Look Up—a story that follows two astronomers who are working to warn the entire world about a massive asteroid that’s heading to Earth. (1990)

And, 53 years ago today, the Woodstock music festival opened, attracting 400,000 youth to “an Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music.

Held at Max Yasgur’s 600-acre dairy farm in Bethel, 43 miles southwest of Woodstock, New York, it featured 32 acts performing outdoors, often in the rain. It has become widely regarded as a pivotal moment in pop music history, first immortalized in the 1970 Oscar–winning documentary and soundtrack album, along with the popular Joni Mitchell–written song, Woodstock that became a major hit for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. The festival site is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

Despite local opposition, muddy roads and fields, and signs proclaiming, “Buy No Milk. Stop Max’s Hippy Music Festival”, the tickets sold out at $16-$24 each—plus hundreds of thousands more crashed the event. Creedence Clearwater Revival was the first act to sign a contract to perform in a place no one ever heard of—and afterward the big acts followed: Joan Baez, Santana, Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, The Band, and Jimi Hendrix (playing The Star-Spangled Banner at sunrise after the final day). WATCH a video celebrating the anniversary… (1969)

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