The disappearance of Amelia Earhart has captured the imagination of historians and conspiracy theorists alike. However, a new study suggests that the remains of the pioneering aviator may have been already found on a remote South Pacific island in 1940.
Earhart was last seen on July 2, 1937, when her Lockheed Electra 10E aircraft disappeared somewhere in the Pacific Ocean as she attempted to fly around the world. She and her navigator, Fred Noonan, were never seen again. The US government declared the two dead in 1939, presuming they must have been lost in the Pacific.
Richard Jantz, emeritus professor and director of the University of Tennessee’s Forensic Anthropology Center, re-examined data from bones found on the island of Nikumaroro in 1940 and concluded that the remains were “likely those of Amelia Earhart”.
Earhart was the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Her plane mysteriously disappeared while attempting to cross the Pacific in 1937 with many believing that she and Noonan crashed in the middle of the ocean.
If the bones do belong to Earhart, then it would debunk previous theories about her fate, including that she crashed into the sea or that she was captured by the Japanese.
Jantz thinks that the aviator landed her plane on Nikumaroro with the tide pulling the plane off the reef into the water and Earhart survived as a castaway on the island. According to the professor, she would have died there as there was no fresh water available.
While the bones found on Nikumaroro had disappeared, they had been analyzed. However, the data was limited to four measurements of the skull and three of long bones, the tibia, radius, and humerus. The bones were initially examined by Fiji physician, D.W. Hoodless, in 1940, concluding that the bones belonged to a man.
However, according to Jantz, Earhart was very tall for her time. She stood 5-feet and 7 inches, maybe 5-feet-8. Jantz’s analysis found the bones have more similarity to Amelia Earhart than to 99 percent of individuals in a large reference sample.
“We could have rejected that hypothesis if the bones and Amelia were dissimilar. They are not dissimilar. They are similar, so we can accept the hypothesis,” Jantz said.
The findings were published in the journal, Forensic Anthropology.
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