Crop circles appear to be a relatively new phenomena, the first reports occurring during the early 1980’s in Wiltshire, England. The first crop circles discovered were almost always circular or elliptical in shape. During their peak in the early 1990’s they began to demonstrate more complex shapes and often a combination of several shapes causing them to be referred to as ‘pictograms’. Formed by the crushing or flattening of grain stalks, they seem to most often form a night. The flattened area is inevitably laid out in a spiral fashion from the center outwards, though more complex variations are occasionally reported – circles formed by flattened layers, plant stalks that are braided together, even formations where each stalk appears to be flattened in a random manner.
History of Reports
The first crop circle was discovered on August 15, 1980 and measured about 60 feet in diameter. A year later, on August 19, 1981, three more circles appeared, consisting of more complex patterns and single lines of multiple circles. Available information indicates that about 120 circles were reported between 1980 to 1987. At this point the rate of formation increased dramatically. 112 circles were recorded in 1988, 305 in 1989, and over 1000 reported in 1990. By 1991 the rate of formation began to decrease and now averages only around 100 or so per year. Although the quantity of circles began to decline, the area where they were discovered expanded from the England vicinity to the former Soviet Union, the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, and other countries.
Theories as to how the crop circles form vary widely. Some researchers point out that on more than one occasion the formation of the crop circle was associated with a UFO sighting. It is easy to understand how a hovering or landed UFO could cause such indentions in the fields.
On September 1, 1974, Edwin Fuhr was harvesting his fields when he noticed what appeared to be a metallic dome resting at the end of the field. He drove his harvester up to the object and got out. He noted that it was about 12 feet in diameter, five feet high, and spinning rapidly. It appeared to him to be hovering about a foot off of the ground. As he turned to return to the harvester he discovered that there were four more identical objects hovering adjacent to his machinery. After overcoming a period of paralysis, he returned to his harvester and was about to climb back in when the object rose about 200 feet into the air, hovered briefly, and then quickly shot out of sight. He later said that ‘there was just a downward wind, no twirling wind. I had to hold onto my hat". When additional people arrived on the scene they noted the strange circular impressions that were formed in the field where the objects had ‘landed’.
More scientific studies of the crop circles after the fact have revealed some fascinating discoveries. On several occasions, interference with electronic equipment such as video recorders and tape recorders has been noted. High pitch warbling sounds have been recorded on the scenes in more than one instance. The American biophysicist W.C. Levengood has studied the broken plant stalks in detail. The nodes or knuckles of the plant stalks taken from within crop circles appear to be slightly swollen. Examination under a microscope has revealed that the cell-wall holes (through which the plants obtain nutrients) are stretched suggestive of rapid microwave heating. In addition, seeds taken from the affected crops tend to germinate more vigorously than control samples.
Meteorologist believe that the circles could be formed by the energetic breakdown of a standing, electrically charged whirlwind. Unlike traditional whirlwinds that suck in surrounding air through the base of a column of vertically rising air, these vortexes fall apart or collapse in a descending burst of violent wind.
And of course there is evidence of hoaxing in some cases. Most researchers think of any crop circle formation more complex than a simple circle as indicative of a hoax. Researchers who are expert in crop circle studies can quickly spot a hoaxed formation. In 1991, Doug Bower and David Chorley, two English sexagenarians, claimed to have hoaxed more than 250 crop circles. Although to date they have failed to actually demonstrate the method they used, the description they offered detailed the use of string, rope, and a four-foot long wooden plank. Several of the circles they claimed to create were authenticated as actual crop circles by authorities.
Eyewitness Account of Formation
Although researchers on the scene have witnessed crop circles change form and additional smaller circles appear while larger ones were being studied, to date there is only one report of an eyewitness account of a crop circle being formed. On August 25, 1991, Gary and Vivienne Tomlinson were walking along a field of corn when they heard a rustling noise coming from the field beside them. "There was a mist hovering above, and we heard a high-pitched sound. Then we felt a wind pushing us from the side and above. It was forcing down on our heads so that we could hardly stay upright, yet my husband’s hair was standing on end. It was incredible"…