Researchers believe bones found nearly 80 years ago on a remote South Pacific island are very likely those of aviator Amelia Earhart.
Earhart disappeared in 1937 while on an expedition to circumnavigate the globe. The wreckage of her plane has never been found.
The bones found in 1940 "have more similarity to Earhart than to 99% of individuals in a large reference sample," said a statement released by the University of Tennessee, where anthropology professor Richard Jantz did his new forensic analysis.
The bones were found by a British expedition on the island of Nikumaroro.
According to the university, they were later discarded after physician D. W. Hoodless conducted seven measurements on the human remains in 1940 and concluded they belonged to a man.
However, professor Jantz examined the bone measurements again recently and found that Hoodless had incorrectly determined the gender of the remains, the Billings Gazette reports.
After he compared the bone lengths with the aviator's - Ms Earhart’s humerus and radius lengths were obtained from a photograph - as well as measurements of her clothing, Jantz concluded that:
The new study is published in the journal Forensic Anthropology.
You’ll probably know Earhart as the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic in 1928 – just a year behind Charles Lindbergh, the first person ever to do so. After her success, Earhart became a hugely prominent public figure, nicknamed ‘Queen of the Air’. The Atlantic flight wasn’t the only record she broke: Earhart also became the first person to fly solo from Hawaii to California, among many other achievements.
She disappeared on July 2, 1937, along with her navigator Fred Noonan while flying over the Pacific Ocean during her attempt to become the first female aviator to fly around the globe. They were declared dead two years later, but the wreckage was never found.
The disappearance of Earhart and Noonan on July 2, 1937, in the Western Pacific Ocean has been the subject of continuing searches, research and debate.
A longstanding theory is that the famed pilot ran out of gas and crashed into deep ocean waters northwest of Howland Island, a tiny speck in the South Pacific that she and Noonan missed.
- Digital Desk and PA