These mysterious circular-shaped patches of ground are starting to appear at sites all over the world. The phenomenon, which was previously thought to be confined to the deserts of Namibia and Australia, has since been found to be far more widespread with over 263 sites identified worldwide so far.The circles appear as flattened, barren patches of ground that can number in the thousands and that are situated only a few feet apart, producing a polka-dot formation over a wide area.
They also seem to appear primarily in dry, barren and inhospitable regions of the world. Several theories have been put forward to explain them ranging from the behavior of termites to plant toxins, but none of these explanations have proven definitively conclusive.
Exactly why fairy circles are becoming increasingly widespread also remains a mystery.
“We conducted a global and systematic assessment of fairy circle-like vegetation patterns and discovered hundreds of [fairy-circle]-like locations on three continents,” scientists headed up by environmental scientist Emilio Guirado wrote in a new paper.
“Our study provides insights into the ecology and biogeography of these fascinating vegetation patterns and the first atlas of their global distribution.”