LAST_UPDATESun, 18 Mar 2018 11am

Bones Found On Pacific Island Are 99% Amelia Earhart’s

Many theories have emerged throughout the years since the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, Amelia Earhart, her navigator Fred Noonan and her plane, mysteriously went missing without a trace in 1937.

Now, a new analysis has concluded that bones discovered on the eastern Pacific island of Nikumaroro (about 2,900km southwest of Hawaii) in 1940, are "likely" to be hers.

University of Tennessee anthropologist Professor Richard Jantz said on Thursday that based on their reexamination and evidence, they "point toward her rather strongly".

Their study titled ‘Amelia Earhart and the Nikumaroro Bones’ published in Forensic Anthropology claims these bones prove she died as an island castaway and indicated a 99 per cent match, despite an earlier conclusion saying that it belonged to a man, as a researcher had determined in 1941.

Though in 1998, Professor Jantz and another scientist reinterpreted them as coming from a woman of European ancestry, and about Earhart's height, in 2015, other researchers concluded the original assessment was correct.

"There was suspicion at the time that the bones could be the remains of Amelia Earhart," the professor wrote in the study, while stating that the previous study of bones analysed by physician Dr D W Hoodless identifying it to be a man, probably reached a wrong conclusion.

"Forensic osteology was not yet a well-developed discipline," he argued.

"Evaluating his methods with reference to modern data and methods suggests that they were inadequate to his task; this is particularly the case with his sexing method. Therefore his sex assessment of the Nikumaroro bones cannot be assumed to be correct."

According to BBC, a British party exploring the island for habitation in 1940 found a human skull, a woman's shoe, a Navy tool used by her navigator, and a bottle of the herbal liqueur Benedictine - "something Earhart was known to carry".

From a total of 13 bones found then, all that survived are seven measurements taken of the skull and bones of the arm and leg – hence they could not be analysed.

The professor used Fordisc, a modern computer programme he co-created which is widely used by nearly every board-certified forensic anthropologist in the US and around the world, to compare them to Earhart's height and body stature; as well as historical photographs and her pilot's and driver's licences, to determine that her body proportions matched the skeletal remains.

He also used an inseam length and waist circumference from a pair of Earhart's trousers, and consulted a "historical seamstress" and drew on a photo of her holding an oil can to estimate the lengths of two arm bones.

"This analysis reveals that Earhart is more similar to the Nikumaroro bones than 99 per cent of individuals in a large reference sample. This strongly supports the conclusion that the Nikumaroro bones belonged to Amelia Earhart.

"Until definitive evidence is presented that the remains are not those of Amelia Earhart, the most convincing argument is that they are hers," he concluded.

Earhart had set many early aviation records at a time when there were hardly any female pilots. She was an accomplished flyer and a celebrity in her own right before her disappearance at the age of 39.

Today, she continues to be an icon to women around the world.