What happened to Amelia Earhart? Earhart is recognized as the first woman in history to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Unfortunately, she mysteriously disappeared and possibly died along with her navigator, Fred Noonan, while attempting to circumnavigate the globe.
Earhart's Mysterious Disappearance
The mystery surrounding Earhart's disappearance while flying over the Pacific in 1937 has bewildered many for years. Some think that her plane crashed and sank while others propose other explanations.
Popular theories that seek to explain Earhart's disappearance include her being captured by the Japanese and living out her days on Nikumaroro, or Gardner Island in the western Pacific Ocean where she is believed to have landed.
Another theory is that Earhart's remains may have been carted off and eaten by coconut crabs. Nikumaroro happens to be teeming with these 3-foot-long creatures that have claws powerful enough to open a coconut.
The unproven theory suggests that coconut crabs on the island may have found Earhart's body after the plane crash-landed on Nikumaroro, and then, dismembered her remains.
In 1940, British colonial officer Gerard Gallagher said about the discovery of a skeleton with measurements that matched Earhart's description on Nikumaroro but this was ultimately lost. In his report, Gallagher wrote that coconut crabs were likely to blame for hiding portions of Earhart's remains.
"All small bones have been removed by giant coconut crabs which have also damaged larger ones. Difficult to estimate age bones owing to activities of crabs but am quite certain they are not less than four years old and probably much older," Gallagher said.
World's Biggest Land-dwelling Arthropod
Coconut crabs are the biggest land-dwelling arthropods in the world. They are also endowed with massive claws capable of lifting 30 kilograms of weight. Their pinch is comparable to the bite force of the lion or tiger. A recent viral video shows that coconut crabs can skewer seabirds that are far bigger than them.
"The crab slowly climbed up and grabbed the booby's wing with its claw, breaking the bone and causing the booby to fall to the ground, where it was unable to fly," Dartmouth College biologist Mark Laidre related. He was in the Chagos Archipelago to study coconut crabs when he made the observations.
"The crab then approached the bird, grabbing and breaking its other wing. The booby struggled and pecked at the crab, but the crab retained its grip with both claws, kicking at the bird with its ambulatory legs."