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 (14)