Amelia Earhart picture debunked, was taken before she disappeared

The picture in question from the History Channel telecast, with "Amelia Earhart" (right) and "Fred Noonan" (left) highlighted.

(CNN) — A newly discovered photo that claimed to hold the key to the 80-year-old mystery surrounding Amelia Earhart’s disappearance may have been published two years before she vanished, new evidence suggests.

The blurry photo, used in a recent History Channel documentary, was alleged to show the groundbreaking pilot and her navigator, Fred Noonan, alive and well on a dock in the Marshall Islands in 1937.

But two bloggers say they have found the photo in a Japanese coffee-table book from 1935 — when Earhart was safely in the United States.

The bloggers say the photo was originally published in a travel book titled “Naval life line; the view of our South Pacific: Photo album of Southern Pacific Islands.”

The book is shown in a digital photo in Japan’s National Diet Library, the country’s largest collection of books. The site says it is from Showa 10, the 10th year of the Showa emperor, also known as 1935.

One of the bloggers, Matt Holly, said the person previously identified as Earhart in the photo could even be a man. “This (figure) has an upper body group of a man,” he said.

The History Channel said in a statement Tuesday its investigators were exploring the latest development, and the channel would be “transparent in our findings.

“Ultimately, historical accuracy is most important to us and our viewers,” it said on Twitter.

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