Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Sheep circles

That’s no crop. No fungus. Not sugarcane either. Those are flocks of sheep . The photo and the “mystery” was publicized in January by the Daily Mail, and a few days ago the very same paper publicized another curiosity. With sheeps.

In the first news item, the idea was to explore the strangeness, but on the more recent, wordy one, we are presented with the lovely story and abilities of shepherd dogs, who guaranteed that the woolly animals maintained their “formation”.

But there can be a more simple explanation for both cases and it may simply involve throwing food on the ground forming the desired drawing. Shepherd dogs may be responsible, at least in part, but relying solely on them would be doing the same the hard way. It’s a more newsworthy story, though.

Using food and animals to spell messages is not news at all on Forteanism. You can view a design concept by Kyung-Ah Park using honey and caterpillars here, and that’s our link to quickly mention a recent Brazilian “miracle” case.

On 2005, Maria Aparecida Martins DAvilla claimed to have witnessed a Marian Apparition in her house, and as evidence she presented many leaves from her garden that allegedly formed sacred messages. They were created by ants, by divine inspiration, she claimed.

The adorable detail in this story was that the written messages nevertheless had many grammatical errors. I jokingly called it the “miracle of the semiliterate ants”. The messages were actually created spreading honey on the leaves with the desired message and letting the ants feast on it, exactly like the design concept referred previously, and in one photo of the allegedly miraculous messages one could clearly see the ants eating only wet parts of a leaf.

Sheep circle’s relation with other Forteana is not just sarcasm, though. When we mentioned crop circles, fairy rings et al at the beginning, it’s because surprisingly there is, or was, a straight faced consideration of a connection. As William Corliss excellent Science Frontiers quoted, in 1989 one G.T. Meaden published on his Journal of Meteorology a letter with a curious report. Of a sheep circle . The reference is “Sheep in Circular Flocks: Is There a Meteorological, or Some Other, Connection?”.

That’s George Terence Meaden, one of the first to seriously consider crop circles, and most widely known in the “cereology” field by his meteorological hypothesis regarding the phenomenon. He was played with, though, as circlemakers gradually created more and more absurd designs that couldn’t possibly be caused by natural phenomena, even bizarre ones, as he himself admitted. Though he insists that some of the more simple ones may be “authentic”.

If only he limited himself to irregular bent sugarcanes and more prosaic meteorological phenomena, he would have a more sure hit. But linking sheep circles with crop circles and whirlwinds, and therefore fungi, sugarcane and semi-literate godly ants, that’s part of the joy of studying the fringe.

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  1. […] the existence of Pahrump.  Art Bell made the small town of Pahrump famous through his radio show. Sheep Circles Forget Omori Compendium of odd stories and Mori’s explanation of the misperceived phenomenon […]

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