Expert says bones found in 1940 belong to Amelia Earhart

News 09/03/2018

Bones found on a remote island in the South Pacific almost certainly belong to lost aviation pioneer Ameila Earhart, an anthropologist has claimed.

Ms Earhart disappeared in July 1937 whilst trying to become the first woman to fly around the globe. She and her navigator Fred Noonan were last seen when they left Papua New Guinea.

The bones were found in 1940, but dismissed at the time as belonging to a man.

But a new look, using modern techniques, has not only determined they belonged to a woman, but they're 100 times more likely to belong to Ms Earhart than any randomly selected other person.

"Forensic anthropology was not well developed in the early 20th century," Richard Jantz, professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Tennessee, wrote in a new paper published in journal Forensic Anthropology.

"There are many examples of erroneous assessments by anthropologists of the period. We can agree that [they] may have done as well as most analysts of the time could have done, but this does not mean [their] analysis was correct."

The 1940 analysis measured seven bones found on Nikumaroro Island. Prof Jantz used that data and modern techniques, as well as taking measurements of clothing that belonged to Ms Earhart, to perhaps put an end to eight decades of mystery.

As well as the bones, the 1940 search party found a woman's shoe, a navigational instrument called a sextant and a bottle of Benadictine, which Ms Earhart was known to carry.

Prof Jantz says his analysis disproves theories the bones and items belonged to survivors of a shipwreck that came ashore on Nikumaroro Island in 1929.

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

"[She] was known to have been in the area of Nikumaroro Island, she went missing, and human remains were discovered which are entirely consistent with her and inconsistent with most other people."

Last year there were fresh claims she was captured and executed by the Japanese, on high alert for Western spies in the run-up to World War II. A photograph alleging to show her sitting on a dock that formed the basis of a History Channel documentary turned out to be from 1935, two years before she began her attempted circumnavigation.

The new research would also appear to debunk claims made by a Guam local that Ms Earhart was executed by the Japanese and buried on an entirely different island.