The bones were originally found in 1940, but scientists say a modern-day analysis of the bones revealed new information that links them to Earhart.
Richard L. Jantz, who works in forensic osteology, or the study of ancient bones, published the research in Forensic Anthropology. It claims a set of bones found on a remote South Pacific island could belong to the famously missing female aviator.
A working party brought to Nikumaroro Island in 1940 found the bones while excavating the area. They first came across a human skull, and later additional bones. Along with the bones, they located a single shoe believed to be a woman’s, a box for a Brandis Navy Surveying Sextant, and a bottle of Benedictine.
When the bones were found, they were originally believed to belong to a man. Now, however, Jantz is suggesting they could belong to Earhart.
Jantz claims that when the bones were first assessed, forensic osteology was just in its beginning stages, which could have affected the initial investigation. Now, he said, the field is advanced enough to reach a more stable conclusion.
Though the bones have been lost since 1940, the initial reports remain. By comparing these reports to Earhart’s body composition with the techniques available today, Jants determined that out of all of the individuals referenced, the bones most closely resemble those of Amelia Earhart.
“In the case of the Nikumaroro bones, the only documented person to whom they may belong is Amelia Earhart,” the study states.
The findings of the study also fit with the most common theory as to what happened to Earhart during her ill-fated journey in 1937. Most experts believe that she and her navigator, Fred Noonan, crashed and sank in the South Pacific, near the remote Nikumaroro Island.
If the bones do indeed belong to Earhart, it could mean the end of a decades-long search and a confirmation that she likely died as a castaway on the remote island.