Amelia Earhart famously disappeared over the Pacific Ocean while trying to fly around the world, and last month, researchers from The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) proposed that she landed her aircraft safely with on a remote island and died there as a castaway.
Now, a new analysis based on an old photograph has indicated a stunning similarity between the pilot and the incomplete skeleton of a castaway discovered on the Pacific island of Nikumaroro in 1940.
The bones were initially suspected to be Earhart’s upon their discovery, but that theory was dismissed by officials following an analysis that determined they were from a male. The bones were consequently lost and the entire event forgotten until TIGHAR found the initial files in 1998, including the skeletal dimensions the doctor recorded.
Studying Recovered Bones
In an analysis performed after the files’ discovery, TIGHAR researchers found “the morphology of the recovered bones, insofar as we can tell by applying contemporary forensic methods to measurements taken at the time, appears consistent with a female of Earhart’s height and ethnic origin,” a statement from the organization said.
Now, a new analysis was able to take an additional step thanks to one of Earhart’s physical quirks and an old photograph.
While performing an updated analysis, TIGHAR researchers noted the recovered humerus was reported to be 32.4 centimeters (12.8 inches) long and the recovered radius was 24.5 centimeters (9.6 inches), which meant a humerus-to-radius ratio of 0.756. Women born near the end of the 19th century, Earhart was born in 1897, possessed an average radius to humerus ratio of .73. Simply put, if the castaway was a middle-aged Western woman, she had significantly longer forearms than average.
To determine if Earhart did, researchers found a historical photo where the famous pilot’s bare arms were visible, and after assessing locations on the shoulder, elbow and wrist in the photo for contrasting bone length, the researchers discovered that Earhart’s humerus to radius ratio was .76, almost the same as castaway’s skeleton.
“The match does not, of course, prove that the castaway was Amelia Earhart but it is a significant new data point that tips the scales further in that direction,” TIGHAR said.
Image credit: Josef Wegner
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