Since then, two pieces of new information have cast some doubt on the photo’s authenticity. One comes from a Japanese blogger, and the other comes from four border collies (yes, really).
Tokyo-based blogger Kota Yamano told The Guardian it only took him 30 minutes to debunk the photo in question. Yamano specializes in military history, and he says the photo actually appeared in a travel book that was published two years before Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan disappeared. According to The Guardian, the book about the South Seas was published on October 10, 1935. Earhart disappeared on July 2, 1937.
“I have never believed the theory that Earhart was captured by the Japanese military, so I decided to find out for myself,” Yamano told The Guardian. “I was sure that the same photo must be on record in Japan.”
Yamano also took to Twitter to share his skepticism.
While Yamano may have debunked the photo, the question of how Earhart actually died still goes unanswered. That’s where Ric Gillespie and four border collies named Marcy, Piper, Kayle, and Berkeley come in. The dogs were specifically trained to be able to sniff out chemicals left behind from human decay and sent to the remote island of Nikumaroro.
Gillespie’s organization, the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, believes that Earhart and Noonan died on an island as castaways. According to National Geographic, the dogs did their job. They detected human remains on the island, and researchers gathered soil samples for testing. Gillespie admitted to The Washington Post that the samples are a long shot, but he hopes more research will continue.
“When I’m totally scientific, I say all of the available evidence points to this conclusion,” he told the Post. “But after a while, you look at a stack of supposed coincidences a mile high and it’s clear… I don’t think I’m different from any scientist that’s working on a case like this. You maintain your objectivity, but it’s hard not to get excited.”
Though Earhart’s disappearance still remains a mystery, at least she’s got a team of researchers, bloggers, and adorable dogs out there working on her case 'round the clock.