Study says bones found in Pacific island likely belonged to Amelia Earhart

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A woman who, according to a new History Channel documentary, is said to resemble pilot Amelia Earhart (C) sitting on the dock is seen in this undated photo taken in the Marshall Islands. Earhart vanished while attempting a round-the-world flight 80 years ago. Courtesy of U.S. National Archives, Records of the Office of Naval Intelligence, Record Group 38, Monograph Files Relating to the Pacific Ocean Area, NAID 68141661/Handout via REUTERS

A new study in forensic anthropology is considering the bones found on a remote island in South Pacific to those of famous pilot Amelia Earhart, who mysteriously disappeared in 1937 while attempting to circumnavigate the globe.

The study titled “Amelia Earhart and the Nikumaroro Bones” was published by the University of Florida. In the report, Richard Jantz, a researcher from the University of Tennessee, re-examined the information gathered from bones found in the Pacific island of Nikumaroro and determined they likely belonged to Earhart.

The bones were found in 1940, three years after the pilot’s disappearance, in the island located 1,800 miles southwest of Hawaii. Initially, it was determined that the bones had belonged to a man.

A British exploration team which explored the island in 1940 found a human skull, a woman’s shoe, a box designed to carry a Brandis Navy Surveying Sextant manufactured in 1918, and a bottle of Benedictine, something that Earhart has been known to carry.

The island exploration team found a total of 13 bones, which were then sent to Fiji and analyzed by Dr. D.W. Hoodless. After studying the bones, he concluded that they belonged to a male.

However, Jantz has challenged this conclusion, arguing that forensic osteology was still in its early stages at the time of the bones’ discovery. In the new study, Jantz employed a modern computer program to compare the recorded information about the bones to Earhart’s height and body stature, which were determined using historical photographs and her pilot’s and driver’s licenses.

The study concluded that the bones remained to a taller-than-average woman of European descent. “This strongly supports the conclusion that the Nikumaroro bones belonged to Amelia Earhart,” said the study.

“Until definitive evidence is presented that the remains are not those of Amelia Earhart,” wrote Jantz, “the most convincing argument is that they are hers.”