New photo adds a twist to Amelia Earhart's story

The mystery of Amelia Earhart's disappearance has haunted historians for 80 years, but a newly-discovered photo in the National Archives may prove that she survived her final flight.

UNITED STATES (REUTERS) - The mystery of Amelia Earhart's disappearance has haunted historians for 80 years, but a newly-discovered photo in the national archives may prove that she survived her final flight.

A researcher telling the History Channel that analysis of the photo, purportedly taken in the Marshall Islands after her disappearance -- suggests that this figure here is Earhart - with her broad shoulders and trademark haircut - and this object here is the same size as her Lockheed Elektra, which researchers now believe may have crash-landed in the area. Reuters has not confirmed the authenticity of the photo.

Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan took off on July 2, 1937 in her quest to be the first woman to circumnavigate the globe - but after reporting they were low on fuel they were never heard from again. A massive air-and-sea search turned up nothing.

The prevailing theory has been that the pair either crashed in the Pacific or were marooned on a nearby island.

But analysts now theorise that this photo suggests the pair were captured by Japanese military and died in custody on the Western Pacific island of Saipan.

One of the researchers working with the History Channel, which is running a documentary on the new lead on Sunday, telling people magazine "This absolutely changes history."