Brianne Hogan
March 08, 2018 1:15 pm
SSPL/Getty Images

The mystery of Amelia Earhart’s infamous disappearance might finally be solved after 81 years. A Tennessee researcher says bones found on a remote South Pacific island in 1940 “likely” belong to the legendary American pilot.

A new study by forensic anthropology professor Richard Jantz of the University of Tennessee suggests that Amelia Earhart’s bones were actually recovered from Nikumaroro (a.k.a. Gardner Island) in 1940 but were initially believed to have belonged to a man.

Jantz re-examined seven bone measurements conducted in 1940 by physician D. W. Hoodless using several modern quantitative techniques, including Fordisc, a computer program he co-created that aids in estimating sex, ancestry, and stature from skeletal measurements.

He concluded that the determination first made by Hoodless — that the bones belonged to a “short, stocky muscular European” man — was flawed, and that the measurements actually are more similar to Earhart’s body than 99% of individuals in the Forensic Data Bank.

“Forensic anthropology was not well developed in the early 20th century,” Jantz’s paper states. “There are many examples of erroneous assessments by anthropologists of the period. We can agree that Hoodless may have done as well as most analysts of the time could have done, but this does not mean his analysis was correct.”

Which makes sense: 2018 technology would definitely be more advanced than what was used back in 1940.

Earhart is, of course, famous for being the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, which she accomplished back in 1932 at age 34. Five years later, she took to the skies again with navigator Fred Noonan in an attempt to fly around the world. She disappeared en route to Howland Island in the Pacific Ocean, and her disappearance has remained a mystery ever since.

Many theories have abounded over the years, including one that proposed Earhart and Noonan were taken to the Marshall Islands as hostages by the Japanese, possibly as U.S. spies, and were later killed. Others claim they survived the crash and returned to the U.S. under assumed names.

With this recent news, maybe the mystery is finally solved? No matter what, Earhart was a trailblazer in the skies and she prepared the path for those female pilots who came after her.

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