James Abbot, British spy, was one of the first who described Mangyshlaksk’s balls.... Back in 1840, he was sent out here in order to induce Kazakh - adaevtsev to the Britain side against Russian, but he failed his primary mission. However, Abbott has made a lot of small geographical discoveries of local orography in this region. He was the one, who discovered and described round boulders of sandstone, with a diameter of 3.5 meters in the mountains Karatau.
...Academician Obruchev, my teen idol, infected me with a burning desire to get into the heart of the wilds of Mangyshlak. Two "figures" (illustration), which depicted "atmogenic balls and tables of Ak-Tau-otelo desert”, struck my imagination in his cult textbook "Principles of Geology". In the chapter, where were described "destroyers of stones" - all kinds of weathering, the great geologist explained their origin in the following way:
"More solid layer, which resists weathering, underlain by a friable rock, makes for the formation of shapes resembling mushrooms and tables. Spherical and lentiform concretions, thanks to solidity, also create original forms encountered by travelers in the desert of peninsula Mangyshlak."
…A real workshop of "stones destroyer" appears before eyes near the most famous Mangyshlak shrine - cave Becket-ata. Numerous of sandstone concretions scattered over the surface at the foot of Ustyurt escarpment. Solid stone balls bestrewn slopes like the kernels of primitive cannon that gins fired on path to the shrine. If you search you can gather a good collection of fossilized shells ("ammonites" and other "leading" paleontological goods) between the "kernels". They are calcified witnesses of the fact that at the beginning was sea.
A real stone mushroom spawn is on the closest hillock, where sprout classic "atmogenic mushrooms" of different sizes, shapes and varieties. Here are beautiful "champignons" and - tight "morel", and there are firm "puff-balls" (Obruchev’s "balls"!). All of them have solid, "ferruginizated" caps that cover from the wind and rain soft, thinned and gnawed by "natural agents" stems. But here are not only representatives of stone flora; there is ugly sandstone turtle that crawled out of the mushroom spawn and froze. It is not in a hurry as well, one millennium more, one millennium less does not matter.
…After walking a while among these mushrooms, I suddenly realized that the objective realities (given you into with your feelings) go somewhere away, a different reality is around with the stranger scale and deliberately slow course of time. A heat haze enhances this feeling, and these burning hot stone monsters noticeably shaking and swaying, like they are ready to move somewhere on their reserved paths.