How 'ill-formed little monsters' could unlock the secret of missing MH370 plane, ten years on from vanishing

7 March 2024, 19:48

Barnacles could hold the key to solving the MH370's disappearance
Barnacles could hold the key to solving the MH370's disappearance. Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Kit Heren

Barnacles could be the unlikely key to unlocking the secret of the missing MH370 plane, ten years on from its disappearance.

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The Malaysia Airlines aircraft vanished while travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, carrying more than 200 passengers, on March 8, 2014.

The Boeing 777 plane disappeared from radars with 227 passengers onboard and 12 crew - and despite a £100 million multi-year, international investigation, no one has confirmed where the flight met its end.

Parts of the plane have since washed up in the Indian Ocean, with the first part - a flaperon from the edge of the wing - found on Réunion Island over a year after the disappearance of the plane.

It's difficult to tell where in the vast Indian Ocean the flaperon came from, and the topic has been vigorously debated for years.

Read more: MH370 breakthrough as 'new tech pinpoints' could hold key to locating missing plane

Read more: Families of passengers on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 given new hope of answers

Debris found on Reunion
Debris found on Reunion. Picture: Getty

But barnacles that formed on the wing component could offer a solution.

Barnacles - dubbed "ill-formed little monsters" by Charles Darwin - form different layers, each of which provides a record of the sea temperature, oxygen level and chemical composition at the time.

This could help scientists work out where they were when they attached themselves to the flaperon.

The largest barnacles appear to have been about a year old, meaning they could have got onto the debris around a year after the crash.

Testing them for their sea 'records' could help investigators identify the area where the flaperon was twelve months on from the disappearance.

The MH370 aircraft disappeared ten years ago
The MH370 aircraft disappeared ten years ago. Picture: Getty

That would narrow down the search area for the remaining debris, much of which is still missing. That could help work out what actually happened on board the plane the night of the crash.

Malaysian authorities have so far only released the youngest barnacles for testing - as the country launches a new investigation, it's possible that the "ill-formed little monsters" could help unlock more answers.

Relatives of passengers on a Malaysia Airlines plane that mysteriously vanished 10 years ago writing a messages at Day of Remembrance For MH370
Relatives of passengers on a Malaysia Airlines plane that mysteriously vanished 10 years ago writing a messages at Day of Remembrance For MH370. Picture: Alamy

It comes after Richard Godfrey, a former Boeing, Airbus and Nasa employee, claims to have found an entirely new system capable of tracking the presumed downed aircraft.

He claims the location of the fuselage could be located using radio signals, with Mr Godfrey reporting to know the exact location of the missing plane.

Mr Godfrey, who is also a founding member of the MH370 Independent Group, has been trying to persuade the governments involved to restart search efforts for the missing aircraft.

Malaysia, alongside Australia and China, ended their search for the missing plane in January 2017.

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