Friday, July 6, 2012

Scientists Still Have No Idea What The Heck Causes Fairy Circles


The cause of "fairy circles," the name given to bare patches of soil that seem to form randomly across African grasslands, continues to baffle scientists.   

While their origin remains a mystery, new research has provided some insight about their stages of formation. 

In a study published in PLoS ONE, Walter Tschinkel of Florida State University went to the Southwestern Africa region of Namibia to explore these mysterious circles further.

According to the study, the circles appear in their semi-circular shape, expanding slightly to reach between 16 and 40 feet in diameter over the course of their lives, which range from 24 to 75 years. Vegetation then once again fills in the bare spots.

Previously, Tschinkel hypothesized that the bare patches were made by termite nests or toxic vapors from the ground, according to Stephanie Pappas of LiveScience.

Those theories have since been ruled out and the cause of fairy circles remains a mystery.  

Regardless of their origin, these circles are still pretty cool to look at, so we've rounded up a few images for your enjoyment:

Fairy Circles

Fairy Circles

Fairy Circles

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