aerial images help solve mystery fairy circles

Mysteries

Published on May 22nd, 2014

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Aerial Images Help Solve the Mystery of the ‘Fairy Circles’

The mysterious “Fairy Circles” as they nicknamed the circles next to the arid Namib Desert, long attracted the attention of researchers. No one has managed to find out how they originated or how they formed, but a team of scientists recently observed an essential detail.

According to the study led by Stephan Getzin from Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Leipzig, Germany, these circles would have been made ​​by termites, as previously thought.

With the help of aerial imagery, researchers have noticed that all the circles are arranged according to a regular pattern, which can not be natural.

Circles are basically patches of desert vegetation surrounded by a ring. Some may even have a diameter of 20 meters and they last approximately 75 years.

Now there are many theories on the formation of these circles, the most popular is the activity of ants and termites citing.

Last year a census was made ​​by an insect biologist who discovered that a species of sand termite that lived in the area, Psammotermes allocerus, and was very common in the region of the circles.

The scientist concluded that the termites feed on grass roots and so the bizarre ring are formed.

Getzin and his colleagues argue that insects could not achieve a homogeneous model of the circles in a very large area.

Millions of barren patches can be found in the grasslands of southern Africa, at the transition to the Namib Desert. This image was taken in the Marienfluss Valley, close to one of the study areas where scientists analyzed aerial photos of fairy circles.

According to Getzin, a plausible explanation is that the grass grows only in this strange pattern because of competition for water.

This phenomenon can be observed in young forests where trees grow so that the adults have enough room and acquire enough resources.

Source: Live Science

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