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Credit: Mike and Ann Scott of the Namib Rand Nature Reserve
Mysterious bare spots called "fairy circles" dotting the sandy desert grasslands of Nambia have long stumped scientists who have no idea how the strange patterns form. A recent study, detailed online June 27, 2012 in the journal PLoS ONE, does pull back some of the circles' mystery. The researchers, including Florida State University biologist Walter Tschinkel, found the small circles stick around for about 24 years, while the larger ones stay put as long as 75 years. Here, a typical fairy circle in Namibia.