Using Earhart's genes, a new project aims to create a genetic profile that could be used to test recent claims that her bones have been discovered.
Right now, "anyone can go and find a turtle shell and be like 'I found Amelia Earhart's remains,'" said Justin Long of Burnaby, Canada, whose family is partially funding the DNA project.The Internet-marketing executive is the grandson of 1970s aviator Elgen Long, who with his wife wrote the 1999 book Amelia Earhart: The Mystery Solved.
"We asked, How can we take wild claims like this and bring legitimacy back into the Amelia Earhart mystery?" Long said. "And so we started looking at everything at our disposal."
According to Long, Earhart's letters are the only items that are both verifiably hers and that might contain her DNA.
Some of Earhart's clothing still exists, Long said, "but when we did the research, it turned out the clothes had actually been dry-cleaned, and you can't expect dry-cleaned clothes to still have DNA."
Hair would also be a good place to look for DNA, but no hair samples from Earhart are known. The International Woman's Air and Space Museum in Cleveland was once thought to have a lock of Earhart's hair, but a 2009 study revealed that the sample was actually thread.