A new expedition to an island in the South Pacific aims to finally solve the mystery of Amelia Earhart's disappearance by using forensic dogs.
The famed aviatrix and her navigator, Fred Noonan, went missing during an attempt to fly around the world in July of 1937 and their uncertain fate has vexed historians and researchers ever since.
Spawning a veritable cottage industry of conspiracy theories and armchair Earhart hunters, the search for the trailblazing pilot has now spanned nearly eight decades and has yet to yield any answers.
However an impending project, set to launch later this week, could produce a breakthrough in the eighty-year-old case.
Working off of a theory which made headlines last year, the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, known as TIGHAR, will soon journey to the uninhabited Pacific island of Nikumaroro.
Known as Gardner Island at the time of Earhart's disappearance, the destination has long been considered a prime suspect for where her plane may have gone down and, if it was, where some remnants from the craft or its passengers could be found.
This possibility was advanced last November, when TIGHAR released the findings of a study that looked at bones found on the island back in 1940 which, their research suggested, belonged to Earhart.
Acting on the results of that project, TIGHAR has taken the next step in their quest with their forthcoming project by enlisting the help for specially-trained forensic dogs capable of locating human remains.
According to National Geographic, who is helping with the expedition, the incredibly skilled canines boast the ability to find "burial sites as deep as nine feet and as old as 1,500 years."
An archeologist with the organization marveled that the creatures' abilities far exceed that of modern technological means, including ground-penetrating radar.
And so it is believed that if there are bones still sitting somewhere in the sands of Nikumaroro, the forensic dogs will be able to detect them, provided they are not unsettled by the island's tropical temperatures and their rather arduous journey to the site.
Should the project prove successful, any human remains found on the island will be subsequently tested against the DNA of a known relative of Earhart to see if there is a match.
Whether such forensic material could even survive after all this time on the island remains a hotly debated topic even among members of the team conducting the search.
Nonetheless, the group is pressing ahead with the project because, as National Geographic archeologist Fred Hiebert astutely observed, "if the dogs are successful, it will be the discovery of a lifetime."
Source: National Geographic