NEW YORK (CBS NEWS) – A new forensic analysis indicates that bones found on a remote South Pacific island in 1940 are very likely those of legendary American aviator Amelia Earhart, according to a researcher at the University of Tennessee.

A statement released by the university says the analysis showed that the bones “have more similarity to Earhart than to 99 percent of individuals in a large reference sample.”

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The university says that in 1940, physician D. W. Hoodless conducted seven measurements on the human remains and concluded they belonged to a man. The bones, discovered by a British expedition on the island of Nikumaroro, were later discarded.

But UT anthropology professor Richard Jantz — using “modern quantitative techniques” — re-examined the bone measurements. The university says Jantz used a computer program he co-created that estimates gender, ancestry, and stature from skeletal measurements. The researcher obtained precise measurements of Earhart’s humerus and radius lengths from a photograph as well as measurements of her clothing.

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Jantz concluded that “until definitive evidence is presented that the remains are not those of Amelia Earhart, the most convincing argument is that they are hers.”

The new study is published in the journal Forensic Anthropology.

Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan disappeared on July 2, 1937, while flying over the Pacific Ocean during Earhart’s attempt to become the first female aviator to fly around the globe. They vanished without a trace, spurring the largest and most expensive search and rescue effort by the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard in American history. They were declared dead two years later, but the wreckage was never found.

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