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South Pacific island bones likely those of famed pilot Amelia Earhart: study

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Bones found on a remote South Pacific island that were originally believed to be those of a man may in fact be those of famed aviatrix Amelia Earhart, who disappeared in the area in 1937, according to a new study.

Richard Jantz, professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Tennessee, used modern bone measurement analysis to determine the bones were likely those of Earhart, who went missing while on a pioneering round-the-world flight with navigator Fred Noonan.

Earhart's disappearance is one of the most tantalizing mysteries in aviation lore, fascinating historians for decades and spawning books, movies and theories galore.

The prevailing belief is that Earhart, 39, and Noonan, 44, ran out of fuel and ditched their twin-engine Lockheed Electra in the Pacific Ocean near remote Howland Island while on the third-to-last leg of their epic journey.

One of the most popular theories is that Earhart and Noonan crash-landed on uninhabited Gardner Island, now known as Nikumaroro, part of the Republic of Kiribati, where she survived briefly as a castaway.

A 1940 British Colonial Service expedition to the island found a human skull, bones, part of the sole of a woman's shoe, a box for a sextant and a bottle of Benedictine.

The bones were shipped to Fiji and examined in 1941 by David W. Hoodless, a professor of anatomy, who determined they were those of a stocky man.

By using a computer program called Fordisc, which estimates sex, ancestry, and stature from skeletal measurements, Jantz re-examined seven bone measurements done by Hoodless - four of the skull and three of the tibia, humerus, and radius bones.

Comparing them to measurements of Earhart's bone lengths based on photographs and examination of her clothing, he determined the bones were likely those of the aviatrix.

The bones have more similarity to Earhart than to 99 percent of individuals in a large reference sample, according to the study.



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