Namibia fairy circle mystery solved at last ?
January 19, 2017 | 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
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