Expedition Suggests Amelia Earhart May Have Had an Encounter With Vicious Coconut Crabs on Nikumaroro

Yana Bostongirl

American aviation pioneer Amelia Mary Earhart was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. On July 2, 1937, famous American aviator Amelia Earhart along with her navigator Fred Noonan and their plane mysteriously disappeared on the third to last leg of their world flight.

This is an excerpt that explains more about the timeline following up to her disappearance: "During an attempt at becoming the first woman to complete a circumnavigational flight of the globe in 1937 in a Purdue-funded Lockheed Model 10-E Electra, Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island. The two were last seen in Lae, New Guinea, on July 2, 1937, on the last land stop before Howland Island and one of their final legs of the flight."

Although Amelia Earhart had been aiming to land her plane on the island of Howland, she may have decided to put down her plane on the island of Nikumaroro which was then known as Gardner. A National Geographic-funded expedition suggests that the aviator may have ended up as a castaway on the island and a victim to the thousands of coconut crabs that call the island home.

Coconut crabs are the largest arthropods on land. They are omnivores and are known to be opportunistic eaters as this excerpt elaborates: "As omnivorous creatures, coconut crabs are willing to eat both plants and animals. They’ve been known to kill birds, feast on kittens, and rip apart pig carcasses. Eerily, they’ve also been known to practice cannibalism — and they will rarely hesitate to eat other coconut crabs."

According to reports, in 1940, the administrator of the newly established colony on Nikumaroro sent a telegram to his superiors claiming that the partial skeleton very likely to be that of Amelia Earhart had been discovered on the island. However, the bones which were sent to Fiji for further testing disappeared and with them all the clues as to what happened to the skeleton.

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