Does bone study crack the Amelia Earhart case?

Amelia Earhart
Famed aviator Amelia Earhart looks out from the cockpit of her plane in a circa-1936 picture. (Harris & Ewing Collection, Library of Congress via University of Tennessee)

newly published study lends support to the view that famed aviator Amelia Earhart died on the remote Pacific island of Nikumaroro during her attempt to fly around the world in 1937.

In the study, published by Forensic Anthropology, Richard Jantz contends that the recorded measurements for remains found on the island in 1940 are consistent with the estimated size of Earhart’s bones. That contradicts earlier determinations by experts that the bones belonged to a stocky middle-aged man.

Jantz estimated Earhart’s skeletal dimensions by analyzing photographs of the aviator and factoring in clothing measurements from a collection of Earhart’s personal papers.

Some anthropologists have questioned how reliable such methods could be, but Jantz insists that the bones described in 1940 should have more similarity to Earhart’s bones than to 99 percent of the individuals in his reference sample of 2,700 individuals.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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