Digging History

New search will look for Amelia Earhart's bones

This 1937 photo shows Amelia Earhart before takeoff in Miami for an attempted round-the-world flight.

This 1937 photo shows Amelia Earhart before takeoff in Miami for an attempted round-the-world flight.  (The Miami Herald via AP)

Thirteen human bones discovered on a Pacific island three years after Amelia Earhart disappeared were subsequently lost. But that leaves 193 bones still to be found, as an archaeologist puts it.

In its latest mission in its three decades of searching for Earhart, the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) will use forensic dogs to search Nikumaroro for bones, reports National Geographic.

As the human body is made up of 206 bones, "there's real potential for there to be more bones there," says TIGHAR archaeologist Tom King. The expedition, which departs from Fiji on Saturday and will also include an underwater search for Earhart's plane, per KVAL—"is less of a shot in the dark than any expedition we've had," says King.

TIGHAR's search for Earhart has long focused on Nikumaroro based on the theory that Earhart got lost on her way to Howland Island while circumnavigating the globe 80 years ago.

The TIGHAR team, including four border collies trained to locate human remains, is expected to arrive at the coral atoll 1,000 miles to the north of Fiji in early July.

As the dogs have found burial sites as old as 1,500 years, age won't be an issue, but heat could be. "The dogs are not effective when the ground temperature is over 80 degrees," says one of the dog's handlers, though she's optimistic they'll be able to pick up scents.

But even TIGHAR head Ric Gillespie is skeptical: "DNA, in general, likes cold and dark. You’re just not going to get a lot of cold and dark on Nikumaroro." Read more about the bones found on Nikumaroro in 1940, and why a forearm bone might be significant, here.

This article originally appeared on Newser: New Earhart Search 'Less a Shot in Dark' Than Any Before