Earhart Project Research Paper
May 2015

The Cross-Wright Paper

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This paper was published by the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports in May 2015. It is ©Elsevier Ltd. The abstract and a link to the full article are provided as background to discussion of the 2017 rexamination of the bones analysis of 1998. The PDF is behind a paywall; in order to access the article you must register on the site and pay US$31.50 plus applicable taxes.


American celebrity aviator Amelia Earhart was lost over the Pacific Ocean during her press-making 1937 round-the-world flight. The iconic woman pilot remains a media interest nearly 80 years after her disappearance, with perennial claims of finds pinpointing her location. Though no sign of the celebrity pilot or her plane have been definitively identified, possible skeletal remains have been attributed to Earhart. The partial skeleton was recov-ered and investigated by British officials in 1940. Their investigation concluded that the remains were those of a stocky, middle-aged male. A private historic group re-evaluated the British analysis in 1998 as part of research to establish Gardner (Nikumaroro) Island as the crash site. The 1998 report discredited the British conclusions and used cranial analysis software (FORDISC) results to suggest that the skeleton was potentially a Northern European woman, and consistent with Amelia Earhart. A critical review of both investigations and contextual evidence shows that the original British osteological analyses were made by experienced, reliable professionals, while the cranial analysis is unreliable given the available data. Without access to the missing original bones, it is impossible to be definitive, but on balance, the most robust scientific analysis and conclusions are those of the original British finding indicating that the Nikumaroro bones belonged to a robust, middle-aged man, not Amelia Earhart.

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