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Mysterious 'fairy circles' found in Australia


Posted on Tuesday, 15 March, 2016 | Comment icon 15 comments

What creates these mysterious circles ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.5 Stephan Getzin
Strange circular, grass-ringed patches have been discovered over hundreds of square kilometers.
The phenomenon, which was previously thought to be exclusive to the deserts of Namibia, has for the first time been spotted thousands of miles away in a remote part of the Australian outback.

A conclusive explanation for these anomalous circles has proven elusive for decades, however this latest discovery could prove invaluable in helping scientists get to the bottom of the mystery.

The circles themselves have been part of myths and folklore for years with the local people of Namibia attributing them to everything from dragon burn marks to the footprints of the gods.

The most popular conventional explanation at the moment is that the circles are formed by ants or termites feeding on the roots and pushing the grass back from their nests in a circular pattern.

In Australia however there was little evidence of insect nests in or around the circles.

Another possible explanation is that the plants are 'organizing' themselves in an effort to maximize their access to water and nutrients in these hot and dry environments.

Ecologist Stephan Getzin believes that this is most likely to be the case given the evidence.

"You should never claim to put an end to the mystery," he said. "We’ve just made one significant step forward in solving the problem."

The hunt is now on for fairy circles in other countries to help confirm this theory once and for all.


Source: New Scientist | Comments (15)

Tags: Fairy Circles


 
Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #6 Posted by Goodnite on 16 March, 2016, 1:42
This happens in arid areas. I saw a special piece on the same phenomenon in Nambia. Unknown causes but probably produced by conditions in arid areas. Natures way of propagation for the grass.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Codenwarra on 16 March, 2016, 1:52
Google Earth lat -23.387, lon 119.859 Recently found Hickman meteorite crater -23.037, 119.683
Comment icon #8 Posted by barbco196 on 16 March, 2016, 2:52
That would be a fungus.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Ashyne on 16 March, 2016, 8:24
The article answered its own question.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Avanter on 16 March, 2016, 9:28
In spain, where we have several arid zones, it happens. It is very common. We call it "calvas" or hair lost, the head of a monk resemble this fact. Our gardens, the grasp suffer it a lot. The golf courses have. Bunkers, that are based on the natural "calvas". The reason: this area is dry, hard, and planta grow around the dry area because it is more easy, the sand is soft, and the shadow of others plants benefit to grow around the dry areas.
Comment icon #11 Posted by Ell on 16 March, 2016, 9:29
It is due to micro-circulation of the air.
Comment icon #12 Posted by bigjonalien on 16 March, 2016, 10:04
when all the extra terrestrial drones meet to download and upgrade info, they give off ammonia that the plants love. as it takes some time, as time is controlled, they use that time, to upload from the light years. it takes in seconds, its a few days but during that time nature loves Wat they give back the the earth
Comment icon #13 Posted by Nnicolette on 16 March, 2016, 13:53
Hmmm well the ones in my yard were definetely fungus but maybe there are different causes. It is peculiar that the locals call them dragon burn marks or god footprints. Sounds like a landing site. What baffles me is the ineptitude of the specialists. They think the grass organized into circles to get water? Rubbish. This is a fungus. Yes it is like ringworm... On the earth. If you catch it at just the right time there are mushrooms on the ring. It should be easy to sample the edge and find the fungus.
Comment icon #14 Posted by paperdyer on 16 March, 2016, 15:43
Maybe they're landing spots for small UFOs?


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