We've Probably Had Earhart's Bones This Whole Time: Study

New forensic analysis says doctor got it wrong in 1940
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 7, 2018 6:51 PM CST
Updated Mar 8, 2018 2:33 AM CST
Study: Amelia Earhart's Bones Very Likely Found 78 Years Ago
In this June 6, 1937 file photo, Amelia Earhart arrives at Port Natal, Brazil.   (AP Photo, File)

"Until definitive evidence is presented that the remains are not those of Amelia Earhart, the most convincing argument is that they are hers." That's the bold conclusion of a new study published in Forensic Anthropology that seeks to end the mystery surrounding the fate of the famous aviator once and for all. A working party found bones on the Pacific island of Nikumaroro in 1940—three years after Earhart disappeared, USA Today reports. Along with the bones were a woman's shoe, a box for a sextant of the type navigator Fred Noonan used, and a bottle of a type Earhart was known to carry, according to a press release. Time reports that at the time the bones were found many people thought it was likely they were Earhart's remains, then a physician in Fiji named DW Hoodless concluded the bones belonged to a man. The new study states Hoodless was wrong.

"Forensic anthropology was not well developed in the early 20th century," the study states. So University of Tennessee professor emeritus Richard Jantz used modern quantitative techniques, including a computer program that estimates sex, ancestry, and stature from bone measurements, to analyze the bones. Well, technically he only analyzed the measurements of the bones, as the actual bones were lost sometime after 1940. He also compared the measurements to a photo of Earhart and some of her surviving clothing. Jantz found the bones are closer to Earhart than they are to 99% of people included in a sample. "If the bones do not belong to Amelia Earhart, then they are from someone very similar to her," the study states. Jantz concludes Earhart likely died as a castaway on Nikumaroro. (One man is adamant the aviator was executed at a prison on Saipan.)

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