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Modern Mysteries

Namibia fairy circle mystery solved at last ?

January 19, 2017 | Comment icon 8 comments

What is responsible for producing these circles ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.5 Stephan Getzin
Ecologists believe that they may have finally solved the mystery behind Namibia's mysterious circles.
Consisting of perfectly circular patches of barren dirt in the otherwise grass-filled landscape, fairy circles have been baffling experts for decades. Each ring measures up to 65ft in diameter and can last for an extremely long time with some persisting for up to 75 years.

Two different theories have arisen in recent months - one suggesting that the circles are caused by plants reorganising themselves to maximize their access to water and nutrients and another which suggests that the foraging behavior of termite colonies could be responsible.

While neither idea seems to have been able to fully explain the fairy circle patterns observed, the answer to the mystery might ultimately lie in combining both of these theories together.
That is, at least, according to ecologists at Princeton University who have created a new computer model capable of simulating the formation of these circles under various different conditions.

Their findings have suggested that, in actual fact, both theories appear to be correct.

"One of the most striking things about nature is that despite the complexity of all of its interactions and the many processes that act simultaneously, sometimes, and more often than we expected, you find these amazing regularities," said researcher Corina Tarnita.

"We wanted to know how can these messy things result in so much beauty and order on such enormous scales ?"

Source: The Guardian | Comments (8)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by brlesq1 5 years ago
Pretty cool. Maybe it explains crop circles, too... 
Comment icon #2 Posted by taniwha 5 years ago
Yes! It's very likely Namibia circles were made with ropes and planks of wood too  .. Now we can all sleep at night.
Comment icon #3 Posted by docyabut2 5 years ago
They are ice circle's like some of the big ones in the Carolina bays that left big  indentations , when the ice melted in a run off.   https://search.aol.com/aol/image?q=ice+circles+pictures&s_chn=prt_btest-accessible-test-g&v_t=comsearch   https://search.aol.com/aol/image?s_it=sb-top&s_chn=prt_btest-accessible-test-g&v_t=comsearch&q=carlrilina+bays
Comment icon #4 Posted by DieChecker 5 years ago
As a member of the Pro-termite side of this debate, I will never accept that the Organized-plants people could have anything to EVER add to the discussion. They simply don't know what they are talking about. (Kidding....) I find it heartening that some brave soul somewhere bucked those who thought they had the answers and combined hypothesis to come up with something better.
Comment icon #5 Posted by jps 5 years ago
I grew up in Namibia and these circles are no secret lol. There is a bush that grows that the locals call the "Melkbos" which when you break its stalks produce a milk like substance that can cause blindness, and when it dies nothing grows in its place for ages. These are areas where these bushes were abundant but died out leaving these circles. Now you can spend lots of money and do research and computer simulations with university degrees and qualifications from abroad, or you can just ask the guy tending his sheep in the area who never even attended school and save some money for important r... [More]
Comment icon #6 Posted by Almighty Evan 5 years ago
That's hardly conducive to landing government grant $$.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Ell 5 years ago
In the comments to this article  goo.gl/QjLxkp a different hypothesis is proposed: that the circles arise due to micro-climate air circulation. The principle is even used to explain briny water rivulets on slopes on Mars.
Comment icon #8 Posted by smokeycat 5 years ago
Very interesting.  Euphorbia damarana (Damara milk-bush):- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euphorbia_damarana

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