Mysterious grassless rings appearing in the South African desert are believed to be made by termites.
The rings known as "fairy circles" had perplexed researchers for decades, appearing in regular patterns throughout the Namib Desert with no discernible cause. In a six-year study of the phenomenon, biologist Norbert Juergens made a discovery that would seem to explain what was causing them - sand termites. The insects were consistently found at the site of the circles and appeared to be feeding on the grass roots.
Juergens reasoned that without the grass in the circles, any rainwater than hit the ground would be absorbed in to the soil where it would provide sufficient moisture to keep the termites alive. What is still unclear however is what specific process leads to the patches being circular in shape.
"Known as fairy circles, these patches crop up in regular patterns along a narrow strip of the Namib Desert between mid-Angola and northwestern South Africa, and can persist for decades."
View: Full article | Source: Yahoo! News
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