Friday, July 13, 2007

Search for Amelia Earhart continues...


by team uab, lsw

A research team from the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) is en route to the South Pacific island of Nikumaroro, where some believe Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan may have become stranded in 1937:

Once at the 2 1/2-mile-long island, the group was to spend 17 days searching for human bones, aircraft parts and any other evidence to try to show that Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, reached the island on July 2, 1937, crashed on a reef at low tide and made it to shore, where they possibly lived for months as castaways, written off by the world as lost at sea.

The team is hoping to build upon previous discoveries on this island, like airplane parts consistent with (but not specifically identifiable as) Earhart's plane. This sounds like fun, BUT...

The conditions during the search will be punishing, with the explorers forced to contend with dense jungle vegetation, 100-degree heat, sharks that reside in a lagoon in the middle of the island and voracious crabs that make it necessary to wear shoes at all times.

However, the crabs, when supplied with pig bones, may actually help the search:

Kar Burns, one of two anthropologists on the team, hopes coconut crabs native to the island — some as big as 2 1/2 feet across — will carry the pig bones to wherever human bones might have been taken by crabs. DNA from human bones could help solve the mystery, [TIGHAR director] Gillespie said.

It's hard to deny that a lot of people still want to know what happened to Earhart. I was wondering how this type of research--which has got to be expensive--gets funded. On its website, TIGHAR states that it is a non-profit organization which relies upon "corporate and individual sponsors". The site has a lot of info, and appears to be worth a look.

30 comments:

Forensic Bloggers said...

neat.

i have no idea who would want to fund something like this, but my guess is that if they find something (or even if they don't) they could get a book deal out of it. possibly profitable.

-jgl

Anonymous said...

It's a fascinating story, though sad. As a family member, I'm not sure if I'd rather assume they died immediately or were left to a long, lingering death on the island. But the expectations of the crabs with the pig bones was funny, I have to admit.

-TLH

Anonymous said...

haha- the crab thing made me laugh! I have always been interested in the mystery of Amelia Earhart, so I found this to be a very cool and interesting blog. I hope that they end up finding something out...


-SEL

Anonymous said...

I'm absolutely petrified of crabs, so the fact that they have crabs large enough to carry away bones is a bit terrifying to me.
I think they might get lucky, but how will they know if the bones they find belong to her or her partner? Do they have something to compare the DNA to?
I hope they find something. I love the Earhart story.

-EAP

Forensic Bloggers said...

for the bone ID, it is possible that they could compare mitochondrial DNA to living members of her family. This wouldn't be a definite ID, but could be enough to convince individuals it was her, possible leading to a search of the area for plane debris.

-jgl

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