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What causes the fairy circles of Namibia? We have a clue

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A fairy circle in Namibia. (Photo: IUPUI School of science)

The weird "fairy circles" of Namibia have been one of nature's great mysteries. Now, scientists are getting closer to figuring out what causes them.

Vegetation patterns such as rings, bands and spots sometimes occur in deserts and arid regions. Millions of these so-called "fairy circles" are in the Namib Desert, which stretches along the Atlantic coasts of Angola, Namibia and South Africa. The circles, or rings, range in size from about 12 feet to about 114 feet in diameter and consist of bare patches of soil surrounded by rings of grass.

The origins of the circles have long baffled researchers. Theories have ranged from termite activity to poisoning from toxic indigenous plants to contamination from radioactive minerals and even ostrich dust baths, according to the Telegraph.

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A fairy circle in Namibia. (Photo: IUPUI School of science)