Discover the mysterious fairy circles in Namibia
Fairy Circles are circular gaps evenly distributed across the arid grassland throughout the Namib Desert that look like dots on fabric when viewed from above. But no one really knows how the Fairy Circles scattered across the Namib Desert formed.
Until 2014, it was thought that they only appeared along the Namib Desert in southern Africa, but then similar Fairy Circles were discovered near the western Australian mining town of Newman. However, Namibia's Fairy Circles are still the most famous and attractive destination for scientists who have studied them since the 1970s.
“It's an empty circular area with nothing on it, and there's a ring of grass around it,” said Eugene Marais, director of research at the Gobabeb-Namib Research Institute, describing the Fairy Circles. . "When you look down from the air or from high points, it almost looks like measles."
Scientists have tried to explain why these magical circles existed for decades. But until now we still have difficulty in understanding this mysterious natural phenomenon. As Professor Marais said, it was a phenomenon that was supposed to be very easy to explain but hard to imagine, no explanation was recognized.
In addition to mystical and sci-fi explanations like fairies dancing in circles and preventing trees from growing, or UFOs landing in the desert at night, there are a number of plausible explanations. More on why the Fairy Circles exist.
Some scientists believe it is related to the termites that made Namib their home, and research has shown that there are colonies under most barren circles bordering this vegetation. The theory is that termite colonies intrude and invade each other, but when termite colonies of similar size meet, they cannot destroy each other, so they create "international" buffers between them.
Another plausible theory is that these Fairy Circles are the result of a competition of plants for scarce water in the Namib Desert. Plants help their closest neighbors by shading and maintaining water on the soil surface, but hindering the growth of other distant plants by growing long roots and absorbing water from the soil.
There are also those who believe that the Namib Desert's fairy circle is somehow connected to the noxious Euphorbia bushes, as some remnants of this plant have been found in the circles.
But the truth is that no one knows for sure whether any of these theories are correct, or the actual answer is a combination of theories.
Research done on newer Fairy Circles in Australia has found that termites do not cause barren soil, but they are the result of abiotic processes such as soil mechanical weathering due to rain.
Dr Stephan Getzin from the University of Göttingen explained: “The vegetation void caused by the worker termites is only half the size of the fairy circle and not artfully arranged. In most cases, we didn't even find any hard termitaria species underground that prevented grass growth. ”
The mystery of the Fairy Circles remains unsolved. Although scientists have certainly made a lot of progress since the 1970s, we may never really know what the purpose of these formations is.