The Secret Science of Fairy Circles

Nancy J. Delong

This story was at first published in our March/April 2022 difficulty as “Polka-Dotted Desert.” Simply click here to subscribe to go through additional stories like this just one.


The origins of this desert grassland phenomenon — equally spaced 10- to-50-foot barren patches named fairy circles — have lengthy confounded researchers. Millions of these circular spots extend throughout the fringes of particular deserts in western Australia, as effectively as Namibia (pictured previously mentioned) and other parts of southern Africa. In 1979, South African botanist G.K. Theron recommended that dying shrubs might poison the sandy soil and control grass expansion, leaving the circles guiding. But this theory doesn’t keep drinking water, in accordance to scientists from Germany’s University of Göttingen. The staff visited four decomposed shrub areas after observed by Theron and unsuccessful to obtain fairy circles there. A much more probable trigger? Particular desert grasses make a best circle to improve their h2o intake and stave off competitors, the experts propose, in a intelligent feat of normal engineering.

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