Forensic Dogs Will Be Used to Find the Remains of Amelia Earhart

An expedition is heading to the island of Nikumaroro with bone-sniffing forensic dogs to search for the remains of Amelia Earhart.
Forensic dogs search for the remains of Amelia Earhart

TIGHAR (the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery) has lead 12 missions in search of Amelia Earhart, who vanished 80 years ago on July 2, 1937 with her navigator Fred Noonan during their 29,000-mile flight around the world. No human remains have ever been found that could be positively identified as belonging to Earhart or Noonan. TIGHAR is hoping to change that when they embark on their latest mission with forensic dogs trained to sniff out bones.

Latest: Photo suggests Amelia Earhart survived

The expedition departs from Fiji on June 24 for the uninhabited island of Nikumaroro, known in Earhart’s time as Gardner Island. It is there, according to TIGHAR’s hypothesis, that Earhart and Noonan made an emergency landing after failing to locate their next refueling stop on Howland Island.

A piece of Amelia Earhart's plane
In 2014 a piece of debris from Earhart’s plane was positively identified by TIGHAR researchers.

There they used the aircraft’s radio to send distress signals, but the the signals had stopped by the time three Navy planes flew over the island a week later. By that time, TIGHAR surmises, the Electra had probably been swept off the the reef edge where it landed, so the search planes never saw it. They did note signs of “recent habitation,” but weren’t aware no one had lived on Nikumaroro since 1892.

“Earhart (and possibly Noonan) lived for a time as castaways on the waterless atoll,” according to TIGHAR, “relying on rain squalls for drinking water. They caught and cooked small fish, seabirds, turtles and clams. Amelia died at a makeshift campsite on the island’s southeast end. Noonan’s fate is unknown. Whatever remains of the Electra lies in deep water off the island’s west end.”

A British expedition arrived on Nikumaroro in 1938 in hopes of establishing an airfield. The temporary colony discovered 13 bones in 1940 that were lost after being shipped to Fiji to be studied. TIGHAR’S senior archaeologist Tom King told National Geographic, “There are 193 bones unaccounted for.”

Researchers believe they have located the site where those bones were found, so they plan to bring in the Human remains detection dogs from the Institute for Canine Forensics to search the area.

The island of Nikumaroro
The uninhabited island of Nikumaroro

Read more about the dogs and the challenges they will face right here.

Empire of Death: Photos from Crypts, Catacombs, and Bone Churches

Empire of Death A Cultural History of Ossuaries and Charnel Houses
The Empire of Death: A Cultural History of Ossuaries and Charnel Houses
by Paul Koudounaris
225 pages
Thames & Hudson

For The Empire of Death Paul Koudounaris visited 18 countries to photograph morbid works of art created from human bones from the 16th-19th centuries, including the Paris catacombs, Capuchin crypts in Italy, Sedlec Ossuary, and many more.

From the book’s description:

From bone fetishism in the ancient world to painted skulls in Austria and Bavaria: an unusual and compelling work of cultural history.

It is sometimes said that death is the last taboo, but it was not always so. For centuries, religious establishments constructed decorated ossuaries and charnel houses that stand as masterpieces of art created from human bone. These unique structures have been pushed into the footnotes of history; they were part of a dialogue with death that is now silent.

The sites in this specially photographed and brilliantly original study range from the Monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Palermo, where the living would visit mummified or skeletal remains and lovingly dress them; to the Paris catacombs; to fantastic bone-encrusted creations in Austria, Cambodia, the Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Germany, Greece, Italy, Peru, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, and elsewhere.

Paul Koudounaris photographed more than seventy sites for this book. He analyzes the role of these remarkable memorials within the cultures that created them, as well as the mythology and folklore that developed around them, and skillfully traces a remarkable human endeavor. 290 photographs, 260 in color

Empire of Death by Paul Koudounaris
Buy now on Amazon

Also by Paul Koudounaris:

MORE: Cult of Weird Recommended Reading

Inside the Control Room of the UB-110 German Submarine

A look at the complex valve system inside the German submarine UB-110 from 1918.
Control room of the UB-110 German submarine, 1918

This photo from the Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums shows the insane valve system inside the control room of the German submarine UB-110. The photo was taken in November of 1918, during the salvaging process after the sub sunk.

From the photo description:

This image shows manhole to periscope wall, valve wheels for flooding and blowing. Hanwheels for periscope gear, air pressure gauges. The UB-110 sunk after attacking a merchant shipping convoy near Hartlepool in July 1918. It was then salvaged and transferred to Swan Hunter Wigham Richardson Ltd. Dry Docks (Wallsend), with an order to restore her to fighting state. The order cancelled following Armistice and she was scrapped thereafter.

More photos and the story of the UB-110 sinking right here.

Weekend Weird: Two-headed space worm, lost in the catacombs, 8th wonder of the world rediscovered, and more

This week’s roundup of weird news is here to remind us that everything is horrifying and there is no escape. Enjoy!
Lost in the Paris catacombs and other weird news

In case you missed your daily dose of deranged, here’s the weekend roundup of the latest offbeat news, science, archaeology, and other bizarre media. This week’s offerings remind us that if you’re not an experienced cataphile, maybe you should avoid the 170 miles of catacombs beneath Paris where people tend to get lost and sometimes end up dead.

Also, space is weird, bald people don’t have gold in their heads, Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery is not only a great source for sweet hereafter honey, it’s apple trees also make cider from beyond the grave, AI is better than humans at Ms. Pac-man, Gene Simmons doesn’t know how to do the “devil horns” gesture properly, but he’s going to trademark it anyway, and please, for your neighbor’s sake, clean your clams.

By the way, remember the news that H.H. Holmes was being exhumed for DNA analysis to test the legend that he escaped the gallows during his 1896 execution? Turns out it’s for an upcoming 8-part History Channel series headed up by Holmes’ great-great-grandson Jeff Mudgett.

All this and more below.

Cult of Weird news

Teenagers lost in the Paris catacombs for three days

Gene Simmons applies for trademark on “devil horns” hand gesture (thumb up)

Video: Rare giant carnivorous snail devours earthworm

History premieres new eight part limited series AMERICAN RIPPER, 7/11

Suffolk man finds hexafoil protection spells etched into 18th-century barn door

Bald men in Mozambique in danger because some believe their heads contain gold

Rare deposition from the Salem witch trials sells for $137K

The cider that comes from beyond the grave

Man who was constipated for 22 years gets surgery to remove 28lbs of feces

Watch: Neill Blomkamp’s bleak vision of post-alien invasion life in new short film Rakka:

What to do with this WWII submarine mired in muck?

How can you clearly remember a murder you didn’t commit?

The 8th wonder of the world may have been rediscovered after 130 years

Can human mortality really be hacked?

Worms grows two heads in space

Maybe paving a road with putrid, rotting clam shells isn’t such a good idea

Conjoined harbor porpoises caught in the Netherlands

Innocent man freed from prison after doppelganger was found 17 years after conviction

Giant chalk kiwi carving near Stonehenge given protection status

Sorry humans, Microsoft’s AI is the first to reach a perfect Ms. Pac-Man score

Philotimo: The Greek word that can’t be translated

Did Texas park officials release photos of Bigfoot tracks?

The Mexican doctor rehydrating the dead

Couple seeks nanny who can deal with “supernatural incidents”

Quacks & Hacks: Walter Freeman and the Lobotomobile

Comments of the Week

  • “Washing your clams is generally good advice in most situations.” [view post]
  • “Can I just baby sit the ghosts and let someone else deal with the children?” [view post]
  • “Next thing you know all chalk kiwis will be demanding some form of protection status” [view post]
  • “I was just there the other day – it’s intensely claustrophobic. I can see how one could easily pass out and possibly lose time. It’s a head trip for sure, this place – and it’s not the dead, it’s the DEPTH. Being that far under the earth is almost too much to bear, especially with ceilings that hit your head.” [view post]

Cult of Weird Collection

Hasko Mystic Tray
Grab your planchette and say h-e-l-l-o to the latest addition to the Cult of Weird collection: A 1940s Hasko Mystic Tray! These unique talking boards were made by a company in Chicago called Haskelite Manufacturing Corporation (1917-1958) who specialized in producing fine molded serving trays. They decided to get into the “fortune telling” business in 1942, producing a variety of Mystic trays and boards under the name Hasko. They sold millions, becoming one of the most prolific manufacturers of talking boards in the world.

Hey look, Cult of Weird and the Red Room from Twin Peaks share the same color palette:

Twin Peaks Red Room Room color palette
via colorpalette.cinema

Cult of Weird Community on Instagram

Tag your oddities and adventures #cultofweird to be featured!

This week’s featured WEIRD BOOK

Corsets & Codpieces
Throughout the ages fashion has been weird, and sometimes even deadly. In Corsets & Codpieces author Karen Bowman takes a fresh look at “history’s hidden fashion disasters” to reveal the funny, bizarre, and often horrifying stories behind historical garments, including bum rolls, poisonous makeup, oversized codpieces, Victorian ladies shoplifting crinoline, and more.
Buy it now on Amazon

Teens Lost in Paris Catacombs for Three Days

Search teams used rescue dogs to find teens who were lost underground in the Paris catacombs for three days.
Teens were lost in the Paris catacombs for three days

The Guardian reports two teenagers were rescued Wednesday morning after being lost in the sprawling catacombs of Paris for three days. Search teams used dogs to sniff them out in the narrow tunnels beneath the city filled with bones.

The catacombs were originally mining tunnels dating back to Roman times, where much of the stone was quarried to build the city. By 1786 Paris cemeteries had become so overcrowded from centuries of burials dating back to the middle ages that it had become unsanitary. The decision was made to begin clearing out the cemeteries around the city to prevent disease caused by increasing numbers of incompletely decomposed bodies. The remains of some six million burials were exhumed and transported down into the mines, transforming the subterranean depths beneath Paris into the world’s largest ossuary.

There are approximately 1.2 miles of catacombs open to the public for tours during regular museum hours, leaving another roughly 170 miles of dark, weaving passages that have been closed and illegal to enter since 1955. But anyone ambitious enough to track down one of the secret entrance points throughout the city can easily gain access to the off-limits passages.

Over the years the catacombs have been used as a Nazi bunker, a clandestine movie theater, a Halloween night Airbnb, and more, but most who enter seem to find their way back out.

Skulls line the walls of the Paris catacombs

In October 2016 surfer Alison Teal decided to surf the catacombs in a pink bikini as a stunt with her video crew. They climbed down a drain at night, through piles of bones, to a secret spot where Teal paddled through a tunnel filled with freezing water. “Skulls lined the walls and it smelled horrid,” she said. “As soon as someone turned a corner, you had no idea where they went.”

The stunt took a dangerous turn when they realized the water was rising, blocking the tunnel’s entrance. The crew had to swim back the way they came to escape, with only a small gap at the top of the tunnel for air. Afterwards, Teal said it was dangerous and she wouldn’t encourage others to try it. “The place is a maze,” she said. “Just one wrong turn and you’d be lost for good.”

That is likely what happened to Philibert Aspairt, who disappeared in 1793. Aspairt was a doorkeeper at the Val-de-Grâce hospital during the French Revolution. For reasons unknown, he decided to descend a staircase in the hospital’s courtyard that lead down into the catacombs. His body was discovered 11 years later.

While there may be many more bodies waiting to be found in the catacombs, the two teens rescued Wednesday were lucky to not meet a similar fate. They were immediately taken to the hospital and treated for hypothermia, however, due to three days in tunnels with an average temperature of 59 degrees.