Ever since she disappeared while attempting a round-the-world flight in 1937, people have wondered what became of American aviator Amelia Earhart. Now, a new forensic analysis of bones previously found on a South Pacific island is claimed to indicate that they were almost certainly hers.
The bones were discovered in 1940 on the island of Nikumaroro – which is in the general vicinity of where she was last heard from – and were examined that same year by physician D. W. Hoodless. Based on their measurements, he concluded that they were not Earhart’s, as they came from a man.
In the years since, the bones and most of their measurements have disappeared. Recently, however, University of Tennessee anthropologist Prof. Richard Jantz took the four remaining key measurements – of the skull, tibia, humerus, and radius – and analyzed them using the Fordisc computer program. Co-created by Jantz, Fordisc is widely used by forensic anthropologists to estimate sex, ancestry, and stature from skeletal measurements.
According to the analysis, the bones were from a woman, and were more likely to be from Earhart than from 99 percent of people in a large reference sample.
Additionally, Jantz was able to estimate the length of Earhart’s humerus and radius via a photograph of her and a scalable object, plus he estimated her tibia length through measurements of a pair of her trousers. These estimated lengths were close to the recorded lengths of the bones.
Based on his findings, along with the fact that various artifacts found on Nikumaroro are similar to items that Earhart was known to have had with her on the expedition, Jantz has stated, “Until definitive evidence is presented that the remains are not those of Amelia Earhart, the most convincing argument is that they are hers.”