Scientists have solved the long-standing mystery of the Magic Circles of Namibia: how they appeared in the African desert
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For many decades, scientists have been trying to understand how round patches of land surrounded by grass appear, which come and go for no apparent reason. But now this mystery seems to be revealed.
The magic circles of Namibia, or as they are also called magic circles, are round patches of land, with grass growing along the edges, with a diameter of 2 to 10 meters. There are millions of such circles in the Namib Desert, in the African country of Namibia. Together they form a strange pattern, but until now, scientists have not known how they appear, writes ScienceAlert.
Today, there are two most popular theories that explain the appearance of these unusual circles in the Namib Desert. One theory is that these circles are caused by termites that feed on grass roots, while another theory is that the grass organizes itself in this way to have access to water in drought conditions.
Previously, scientists have already found confirmation of these two theories, but this does not provide a complete explanation for the appearance of mysterious circles. In addition, a few years ago, similar circles were also discovered in Australia, but scientists did not find a clear connection with termites.
Two years ago, scientists from the University of Göttingen, Germany, came to the conclusion that these magic circles are still most likely appear due to lack of water and therefore the grass grows here in circles, without its presence in the center of these round areas. But recently, these same German scientists, led by Stefan Götzin, conducted a new study and presented their results to the public.
A new study has shown that the formation of these circles is most likely due to the fact that it rains very rarely and irregularly. Grass inside such circles still appears for a while, and then disappears. And the grass on the circumference of these areas continues to grow.
Scientists believe that the appearance of these circles is due to the fact that this grass has very long roots in order to have access to water. But termites have nothing to do with the appearance of these circles.
“In desert conditions, the grass self-organizes in such a way that it has a better chance of surviving. They form such a clear circular concentration that their roots can reach the water at great depths,” Getzin says.
According to scientists, the lifeless patches of land that these magic circles are, allow grass to grow on the edges of these circles and flourish. After all, it is these plants that absorb all the moisture.
“This self-organization of the grass allows it to defend itself against arid conditions. By forming such a patterned landscape of evenly spaced circles, the grass directly benefits from scarce water resources at the expense of other vegetation,” says Getzin.
According to scientists, only such a geometry of vegetation placement gives a chance for survival in the desert.
As Focus already wrote, the drought laid bare the horrors of Lake Mead, which is located in the USA. And divers are finding more and more human remains in this reservoir.