Washington: Bones found on a remote Pacific island almost eight decades ago likely are those of pioneering American pilot Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly across the Atlantic in 1932, a new study has claimed.
Earhart, her plane, and her navigator vanished without a trace in 1937 over the Pacific Ocean. If true, the findings would finally solve a mystery that has fascinated generations since Earhart disappeared while attempting to fly around the world in 1937, CNN reported on Thursday.
The study re-examined measurements of several bones found on the Pacific island of Nikumaroro, about 2,900 km southwest of Hawaii, in 1940. Researcher Richard Jantz wrote that what he found “strongly supports the conclusion that the Nikumaroro bones belonged to Amelia Earhart”.
The details were published in a research article authored by Jantz, professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Tennessee, in the journal Forensic Anthropology. This is not the first time researchers have examined the bones or pondered a possible link with Earhart. In 1941, the remains were analysed by D. W. Hoodless, principal of the Central Medical School in Fiji, who concluded that the bones belonged to a male.
The bones themselves have since been lost, CNN reported. But the new study contends that when Hoodless looked at the bones the science of forensic pathology was not as advanced as it is now.
“Forensic anthropology was not well developed in the early 20th century,” Jantz said in the study.
“There are many examples of erroneous assessments by anthropologists of the period.”
Jantz used a new technology called Fordisc to estimate the sex and ancestry of the remains. “I reassess (bone measurements) with realistic assumptions about who could have been on Nikumaroro island during the relevant time,” he wrote.
Jantz used information based on Earhart’s body measurements compared to the Nikumaroro bones. After comparing numerous measurements of Earhart with those of the bones, Jantz concluded that “the only documented person to whom they may belong is Amelia Earhart”.
Earhart was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, and was considered one of the most famous women in the world when the mystery of her disappearance began. She is still frequently honoured as a pioneer of women’s empowerment, and was recently chosen by Mattel to be depicted as a Barbie doll.