Fairy Circles Namibia

November 20, 2012 by  

Fairy Circles Namibia, In the sandy desert grasslands of Namibia in southern Africa, mysterious bare spots known as “fairy circles” will form and then disappear years later for no reason anyone can determine. A new look at these strange patterns doesn’t solve the wistful mystery but at least reveals that the largest of the circles can linger for a lifetime.

Small fairy circles stick around an average of 24 years, while larger ones can exist as long as 75 years, according to research detailed today (June 27) in the journal PLoS ONE. Still, the study sheds little light on why the circles form, persist and then vanish into the landscape after decades.

“The why question is very difficult,” said study researcher Walter Tschinkel, a biologist at Florida State University. “There are a number of hypotheses on the table, and the evidence for none of them is convincing.

Fairy circles are enigmatic barren patches, typically found in the grasslands of the western part of Southern Africa. This natural phenomenon has still not been explained despite 25 years of research. The region’s bushmen have traditionally ascribed spiritual and magical powers to them.

They are most prolific in Namibia, but are also present in Angola and South Africa. These fairy circles consist of round areas barren of vegetation; as yet there is no clear picture as to how they are formed, although scientists are researching the matter. One theory suggests termites as the creator of these circles, but recent studies have stated that there is no evidence termites would cause this phenomenon. In the oral myths of the Himba people these barren patches are said to have been caused by the gods, spirits and/or natural divinities.

Studies done by South African scientists shows that these circles are under continuous development. They grow in diameter, ranging from 2 to 12 meters in diameter, where they mature and “die”, filled in by invasive grasses.

The circles are to be found about 100 miles inland, in a band stretching 1,500 miles south from Angola. The territory is among the most remote and inhospitable on the planet, which may explain why so little scientific research has been done on the rings. These circles are not moving and after 22 years they have remained in the same spot. During these studies they have come up with a possible explanation to why these fairy circles are appearing; researchers have found out that there is a possible toxin left by poisonous plants that has caused the plant seed destruction. But experiments conducted thus far have failed to produce any evidence that supports this hypothesis.

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