New study suggests what causes mysterious fairy circles in Namib Desert
The Namib Desert’s fairy circles, mysterious bare soil spots can be seen dotting the grasslands across 1,500 miles of the desert, are really well-coordinated as well as intelligent in design. These circles are also known for cropping up suddenly.
Scientists have long been struggling to determine what natural process causes these fairy circles, as factors like meteorite impact and huge raindrops have already been ruled out.
Ecologist Corina Tarnita wrote, “You realize that you can find these patterns at many different scales. Anywhere from tiny microbial colonies to animal coats to the scale of ecosystems. You find compelling patterns and, many times, the same kinds of patterns, the same motifs.”
Now, a new research has suggested that these circles, which range in width from 6 feet to 115 feet, occur as the result of a permanent, systemic process that take place beneath the desert.
Led by ecologist Tarnita, a team of mathematicians from Princeton University used termite and plant models to explain how fairy circles came into existence.
One theory states that colonies of termites eat grass until they hit a barrier, such as a rival colony of termites. They eat grass roots and create well-engineered sandy patches for capturing what little water/rain the desert offers. Another theory states that the plants vie for water and other resources, and create the barren rings in the process.
The researchers reported their findings in the most recent edition of the journal Nature.