“Fairy circles,” these small circular areas devoid of vegetation, have raised questions about their origins for years. We knew them in two or three countries, some were perhaps in 15 countries on three continents. But we still need to agree on a definition.
The commonality of these strange circular shapes, which have so far been observed mainly in Namibia and Australia, was that they appeared in very dry regions, each time at the speed of several circles in the same sector.
For this reason, several scientists suggest, among other things, that these circles of “bare earth” would help the vegetation in the region use the meager water reserves more efficiently.
263 locations in 15 countries
The hypothesis of targeted destruction by termites has also been put forward. As well as that of fungi or an as yet unidentified toxin.
The fact that these counties are in very remote areas has made their study difficult. Analysis of 15,000 satellite photos using artificial intelligence by Spanish researchers recently led to this new estimate.
Such “circles” – in reality the shape is round rather than perfectly circular – are found in at least 263 locations in 15 countries from Southwest Asia to the Horn of Africa and Madagascar. This compilation was published September 25 in PNAS magazine.