Study: Bones found in 1940 likely Amelia Earhart

Last Updated: Thursday, March 08, 2018, 12:10 PM EST

New research is shedding light on the 80-year-old mystery of Amelia Earhart's disappearance.

  • New study looks at records from bones found in 1940
  • Study believes bones are actually remains of Amelia Earhart
  • Bones were originally believed to be of a man

The legendary pilot vanished in 1937 while attempting to fly around the world.

Three years after her ill-fated mission, human bones were found on Nikumaroro Island, which is located in the western Pacific Ocean near Earhart's projected flight path.

Near the bones were items believed to be Earhart's possessions, including a shoe and a Benedictine bottle she was known to carry. Researchers who studied the bones at the time said they belonged to a man.

Now, however, an anthropology professor at the University of Tennessee, Richard Jantz, says those bones most likely were Earhart's.

Although the bones were lost many years ago, Jantz used several modern forensic anthropology techniques, including a computer program called Fordisc that uses skeletal measurements to estimate sex, ancestry and stature.

Jantz said, using the techniques, he discovered that the physician who examined the bones in 1940 incorrectly determined the sex of the remains. 

The professor also mentioned that the data revealed the bones had more similarity to Earhart than 99 percent of individuals sampled.

Jantz said mistakes in the data had less to do with the competence of the physicians and more to do with the state of forensic anthropology in the 1930s and 1940s. As the field was still emerging, Jantz said there were several mistakes found in early assessments during that period.

While there may never be a definitive answer, Jantz says, "the most convincing argument is that they are hers."

The new study was published in the journal Forensic Anthropology.