The mysterious fairy circles recently discovered in the remote Australia outback have opened a debate among scientists as to the theory of their origin. The Namib Desert, which is thousands of miles away from the outback in Australia, was the only place these fairy circles were thought to magically appear until this recent discovery in the land down under.
From an aerial view, the Australia fairy circles leave the landscape in the pattern similar to the surface of a golf ball, with all those circles. The somewhat evenly placed fairy circles are large in size, about 13-feet across, but they have been seen as big as 22-feet.
These fairy circles are just as baffling to scientists today despite now being found in two remote places in the world. As MSN News reports on March 15, the Australian outback and the Namib Desert are both barren areas, with similar climate and these pock mark-like fairy circles don’t seem to have a purpose, or do they?
The origin of these fairy circles have spawned many theories ranging from UFOs to termites and a whole bunch of mystical and scientific theories in between! The Namib Desert circles have a local legend attached to them – “footsteps of the Gods.”
The fairy circles expose round patches of red sand surrounded by a circle of thick grass and this pattern can span for as far as the eye can see in some areas, according to the Daily Mail. While they are easily seen on the ground, it isn’t until you are in the air looking down from an aircraft at the pocked-marked landscape that you realize this doesn’t look like something nature made.
Now that there are two areas in the world with these fairy circles, it has made the scientists investigation a bit easier, as they can now compare the factors that the two locations have in common. One of those factors is termites, which is a theory offered up by a German scientist in 2013.
Now that there are two locations and termites are present in the sand of both, this theory suggested by the German scientist, Norbert Juergen, has more meat to it today. MSN reports, “After finding sand termites in every “fairy circle” he sampled, he concluded that the industrious insects might be geoengineering their harsh environment, burrowing out bare spots in ever-broader concentric circles in order to capture some of the desert’s scarce water for themselves.”
Another leading theory, which is also scientifically based is that the plants have “self-organized. “It’s not gods,” scientists said Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and “it’s not dragons or bugs.” This theory suggests that plants are rearranging themselves to maximize the little resources available — like water.
The plants possibly self-organizing is not an entirely new theory. This was a theory first suggested back in 2013 in a paper by South African biologist Michael Cramer and then again a year later when the lead author of the PNAS study, Stephan Getzin, conducted his own analysis of aerial images of the Namibian circles. His used images of the fairy circles in Namib to develop a computer model that “could explain how plants — which lack central nervous systems, and, you know, an understanding of the notion ‘circle’ — could coordinate themselves in this way.”
The theory behind these self-organizing plants suggests that: “In a desert environment where water is scarce, the land can only sustain so much vegetation. Attempting to carpet the entire earth with grass would be a recipe for mutually assured destruction, so instead the plants organize into clumps. Covered areas soak up the water from bare areas, and everyone drinks, even when it’s been months since the last rainfall. That’s how the area around the fairy circles can sustain full-time vegetation when the rest of the Namib desert is desolate except for right after a rain,” according to MSN.