The mystery of massive 'star dunes' in the Sahara Desert has finally been solved – and it's not what scientists expected

Towering star-shaped sand dunes in the desert New research finds that the desert formed in less than a thousand years.

The study was published March 4 in the journal Scientific reports, is one of the relatively few that can be viewed from the so-called star dunes, which are the tallest sand dunes on Earth. Star dunes are named for their multi-armed shapes, and they form in places where the wind changes direction throughout the year, according to National Park Service.

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