Thursday, July 5, 2012
Mysterious African 'Fairy Circles' Stump Scientists
The smallest are about 6.5 feet (2 meters) in diameter, while the largest can be almost 40 feet (12 m) across. Eventually, plants move back in, re-colonizing the circles and leaving only slightly indented "ghost circles" behind.
CREDIT: Mike and Ann Scott of the Namib Rand Nature Reserve
Nobody is able to explain the strange, bare circular patches that appear in the Nimibian grasslands.
Known as 'fairy circles', the mysterious circles of bare land seem to appear and then disappear again, often years later, for reasons that nobody is yet able to determine. The circles range in size from 2m across to as much as 12m across with some lasting as long as 75 years. The remote region in which the phenomenon occurs has made it difficult for researchers to investigate.
Biologist Walter Tschinkel has been trying to get to the bottom of the mystery since first encountering the circles while on Safari in 2005. Theories considered and ruled out include underground nests of harvester termites and types of plants able to draw resources towards them; but despite his best efforts nothing to date seems to satisfactorily explain what is creating them.
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