This Day In History, February 16th

What happened on this day in history: Tutankhamun's tomb is opened, Fidel Castro becomes the prime minister of Cuba, and more historic events from this day.

1834: Ernst Haeckel Is Born

Ernst Haeckel is born in Potsdam, Germany. A German zoologist, Haeckel is credited with discovering and naming thousands of new species. His colorful illustrations of various species made him a popular naturalist in his day, though he has since been criticized for his racist views on white superiority.

1923: Tutankhamun’s Tomb Is Opened

Today In History February 16

Pictorial Parade/Getty ImagesBritish Egyptologist Howard Carter and his assistant Arthur Callender on the steps leading to the entrance of the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun, or King Tut, in 1922.

King Tutankhamun’s tomb is opened in Egypt by British archaeologist Howard Carter.

Long convinced that King Tut’s tomb was located somewhere in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, Carter eventually came across a hidden staircase and a number of underground chambers in November 1922. By February of the following year, he and his team reached the final chamber and found the mummified body of the boy king inside.

1926: Margot Frank Is Born

Margot Frank, the older sister of Holocaust diarist Anne Frank, is born in Frankfurt, Germany. Margot and Anne later died together at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945.

1959: Fidel Castro Becomes The Prime Minister of Cuba

Fidel Castro is sworn in as the prime minister of Cuba. The communist revolutionary leader came to power after spearheading a successful guerrilla campaign against the Cuban dictator General Fulgencio Batista. He then established Cuba as the first communist power in the Western hemisphere, but also persecuted anyone who spoke out against his regime. Despite numerous attempts on his life, he led the country until 2008, when his deteriorating health caused him to pass his position to his brother, Raúl.

1981: Arne Cheyenne Johnson Kills His Landlord And Says The “Devil” Made Him Do It

Arne Cheyenne Johnson

Bettmann Archive/Getty ImagesArne Cheyenne Johnson arriving at court in March 1981.

Nineteen-year-old Arne Cheyenne Johnson stabs 40-year-old Alan Bono to death in Brookfield, Connecticut. Johnson later claimed that he’d been possessed by a demon, which had previously possessed his girlfriend’s little brother, and that the “devil” made him kill Bono.

He was ultimately found guilty of first-degree manslaughter and sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison (though he served just five) and his story was later dramatized in the 2021 film The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It.

2009: Travis The Chimp Attacks

Travis the Chimp attacks Carla Nash in Connecticut. Owned as a pet by Jerome and Sandra Herold, Travis was only a baby when he was introduced to Sandra’s friend Carla. Travis was almost another child to the Herolds; he would eat dinner with the family, use the computer, and reportedly loved baseball. In 2009, Travis escaped the Herolds’ home, and when Carla tried to lure him back to house with a toy, he attacked her. The attack would leave Carla horribly disfigured, and it is considered one of the most brutal exotic pet attacks in history.