Strange things have always happened in nature, leading us humans to try and find the truth behind it. And the mysterious grass circles in an African desert are no exception.
Fairy circles, which are barren patches that pop up in grasslands usually in a circular pattern, have puzzled scientists across the world for centuries – and there is still no definitive answer about the origins, prompting some wild theories that span from aliens to an underground dragon.
The grasslands have been found in Southern Africa including South Africa, Namibia and Angola, as well as in western Australia.
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The rings, according to the BBC, range from 1.5m to 6m in diameter but can reach up to 25m wide.
In Namibia, where they are more common, the locals of the Himba tribe claim the circles believe they are caused by spirits, and are footprints left by their god, Mukuru.
Another theory claims that animals could either be making the circles while some tourists guide are known to tell people that the circles were formed by an underground dragon whose poisonous breath kills the vegetation.
Hein Schultz, the owner of the Rostock Ritz Desert Lodge located just outside the Namib-Naukluft National Park, explains that some locals even believe these mysterious circles are caused by “UFOs or fairies dancing at night”.
The reason that theories have been able to grow is because there is no universally accepted scientific theory to explain their presence.
Over the years scientists have kept trying to find out the reason the grass grows in this way to create the circles.
Researchers have previously suggested that the circles could have been created by termites, which create these circles in order to harvest water and nutrients from the ground.
However, scientists studying the grasslands in Australia believe that the fairy circles are engineered by the grasses themselves.
Ecologist Stephan Getzin told Live Science: "This is the positive feedback, where plants do 'self-organized patch formation:' They do ecosystem engineering to benefit as much as possible from the limited water in this harsh environment.”
More research is being done to uncover the reason behind the rings in Namibia as they have different soil compositions.
Entomologist Eugene Marais thinks the rings are caused by a combination of factors but those factors remain a mystery to this day.
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